How Kawhi Leonard And LaMarcus Aldridge Have Prevented A Premature Tony Parker Retirement

We all reach a point in our professional careers where we feel like it’s time to move on to What’s Next. Maybe it’s a new career, maybe we take that sailing trip atop our bucket list. We’re not necessarily fed up, we’re just ready for something new. Age is usually the driving force behind this feeling. We don’t react as quickly as we used to, new technology is making us obsolete, we can’t compete with the new blood. This feeling isn’t wholly unpleasant – we approach it, usually, with open arms.

Tony Parker‘s mind was in a similar space after last season. Timeless as they’ve been, the Spurs’ big three have been nearing their end for some time, and last season seemed to be the beginning. With Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan winding down their careers, it would have made perfect sense had Parker announced the same intention. He appeared ready to do so, too. Then free agency happened, and everything changed for Parker and the Spurs.

As Sam Amick of USA Today reports:

“It definitely helps that Kawhi and LaMarcus are here and playing great,” Parker, 33, told USA TODAY Sports. “That will help me to play longer, that’s for sure. If Kawhi and LaMarcus were not there, then maybe when Timmy and Manu was gone, maybe I’d play one or two (more years after that point) and retire.

“But now that they’re there, it makes me want to be there for the young guys. The way Timmy and Manu help all the young guys, I want to do the same thing too, you know? It’s such a great family and a great atmosphere, that it makes you want to stay.”

Parker was visibly diminished last season and in the summer when he played for the French national team. In fact, his play and condition was the main point of concern for Spurs fans heading into this season. Yet, this year, we’ve seen a rejuvenated Parker take the floor, spinning and dribbling and knifing through the lane as if he was in his prime. As Aldridge and Leonard continue to take on more of the offensive burden, Parker’s load on that end diminishes. He’s still capable of carrying them in spurts, as he did against the Cavaliers in the first half of Thursday night’s showdown, but he just doesn’t have to do it as often.

Time will eventually come for Parker, as it will for every player (not even the Spurs can beat Father Time). Because of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, though, its arrival has been pushed back indefinitely. That sailing trip will have to wait a few more years.

(USA Today)