The San Antonio Spurs saw three of the team’s most prominent players leave town this summer. Kawhi Leonard getting traded to Toronto was the biggest news, while Manu Ginobili’s decision to retire was the most recent occurrence. In the midst of those personnel moves, Tony Parker left the Spurs to suit up for a new team for the first time in his NBA career.
That team is the Charlotte Hornets, which made sense as a landing spot for Parker, as the team hired longtime Spurs assistant James Borrego to be their new head coach. But as Parker explained to Matt Rochinski of Hornets.com, there was another big reason for his decision to become a Hornet: his idol, Michael Jordan.
Parker explained that the decision to join the Hornets was obvious to him for a few reasons, citing Borrego, his “little brother” Nic Batum, and his desire to “experience something new.” It was at this point when Jordan got in touch, and at that moment, Parker said there was no debate about where he was heading next.
“He texted me, and everybody that’s known me for many years knows M.J. was always my idol growing up,” Parker said. “He was my favorite player and that’s who I wanted to become. He made me want to play basketball. The way that he carried himself through his career was a great example for me to follow during the Bulls’ years, Dream Team and all that. That’s when basketball exploded in Europe. For me, it’s like I’m closing my basketball chapter playing for Michael, my last couple of years in the NBA. I thought it was pretty cool.”
It would have been cool to see Parker end his career in San Antonio, but after 17 years in one place, it makes sense he might want to do something new, especially when he has such a deep personal connection to so many aspects of his new organization.