At 33, Tony Parker is the youngest of the San Antonio Spurs’ big three of himself, Tim Duncan (39) and Manu Ginobili (38) (obviously, “youngest” is a relative term here). Parker is at the age when most players, especially those with a lot of miles on their legs, begin to consider retirement. The Spurs’ point guard isn’t quite there yet, however. As he tells Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, Parker plans on playing until he’s 38, which would make for a 20-season tenure in the NBA.
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
It’s an admirable goal, and given how the Spurs excel at elongating careers, it’s not out of the question. But should Parker play for that long?
His performance from last season, especially in the playoffs, raised legitimate questions as to how long Parker can sustain a high level of play. He was nagged by various injuries, including a strained left hamstring, which greatly hindered his production. While lingering aches are nothing new for any professional athlete, Parker is at an age where the body simply doesn’t heal as fast as it used to. A summer of rest would have been ideal, but the Frenchman opted to play for his country in this year’s EuroBasket tournament, where his inconsistent play only served to raise more doubts.
The key for Parker, as is the case with all aging players, is to take care of his body. The Spurs already do an excellent job of this, but Parker now has to be extra vigilant in his self-maintenance. He even sought out advice from Steve Nash, who likewise took pristine care of his body as he grew in years.
“I just wanted to see what he was doing and what could be helpful,” Parker said. “Everybody is different and does different stuff that works for them. But because he was a point guard like me with a great example of longevity who was still great at 38, an All-Star at 38, what did he do to make sure his body was ready?
“The main thing I learned is to do the routine every day. When you’re young you want to go out and play right away. But it doesn’t happen like that for me anymore. You have to make sure that you do all the exercises even when you feel good.”
Hopefully, Parker can avoid the absolute breakdown that Nash’s body went through the second he landed in Los Angeles. San Antonio thinks it already has a replacement for Duncan in LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs’ floor general of the future, however, still isn’t on the roster. If San Antonio manages to find that successor within the next five years, thereby taking a good portion of the load from Parker, 20 seasons becomes a much more likely goal for the Spurs’ longtime point guard – and it’s one we hope he obtains.