Tony Parker

Eleven players in NBA history have scored more playoff points than Tony Parker. Seven of them are already Hall of Famers (Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Jerry West, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Hakeem Olajuwon). One of them will be in the Hall of Fame very shortly (Shaquille O’Neal). Three of them will be in the Hall of Fame in the near future (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, LeBron James). Then four-time champion Tony Parker, who has scored more playoff points than Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain. Obviously Parker has benefited from playing for a really good team who has been in the postseason every year since Parker entered the NBA. Parker’s the only point guard in the top 12 in career postseason points. West played some point guard, but you would label him as more of a combo guard, if not just as a shooting guard. West mainly played point guard towards the end of his career to make way for Gail Goodrich at shooting guard. When discussing the best point guards in NBA history, people will mention Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Isaiah Thomas, John Stockton, Bob Cousy, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Those players put up gaudy numbers, won MVPs or have been selected to a number of All-NBA first teams. Parker has never been a first team All-NBA guy. He’s been second team three times, and third team once. He’s been to six All-Star games and five NBA Finals–winning the 2007 Finals’ MVP. Jason Terry, Joe Johnson and Steve Nash have scored more regular season points than him. He used to play 30-plus minutes a night, but his minutes will continue to decrease per game as Gregg Poppovich tries to preserve guys like Parker for the postseason. Parker gets random days off, and seems to always battle a minor injury or two. His career per 36 minutes averages are nothing spectacular, 18.8, 6.6, 1 steal, 49.5 FG% 2.8 turnovers a game. He’ll most likely never make an All-NBA first team, or win league MVP like Nash. But he has four championships before age 32. Where does he stand all time? Championships are important, and I get that. To be considered an all time great you need rings to help make your case. Nash won’t win one (unless something crazy happens) and Stockton never won one. Kidd never won one in his prime. Parker has delivered in big times moments since he averaged nearly 15 points a game during the Spurs’ 2003 NBA title run. In the last 30 years Parker, Johnson, Thomas and Chauncey Billups are the only point guards to win Finals’ MVP. Parker has the 40th most regular season assists in NBA history, and although Parker will climb that list the next six or so years. He has 5635 right now, while each of the top-5 assist guys have 10,000-plus dimes. In terms of regular season, Parker won’t be mentioned as one of the all-time greats, as far as regular season production. Lots of that has to do with playing with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen in the beginning of his career, and then Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Duncan and Ginobili the last three years, plus however long Parker plays for the Spurs. Parker will have great regular season numbers compared to Nash, Robertson, Stockton, Johnson, Kidd, Thomas, Gary Payton but they have those big assist numbers, All-NBA First Teams, MVPs, All-Defensive teams, etc. Parker, however, will be remembered as one of the best postseason players ever. If you made an All-Postseason Team in the last 25 years, Parker is the starting point guard. He might go down as the second best postseason point guard ever (behind Magic Johnson, of course). Watching Parker makes you appreciate basketball. His swift quickness. His ability to hit difficult shots against bigger opponents. Later this summer when NBA writers have nothing better to do then rank each NBA player (I’ll be doing that same thing), Parker, in some lists, won’t be considered a top-10, or even a top-15 guy, which is fine. Parker doesn’t need to be considered the best point guard in the NBA. Guys think Chris Paul, or Stephen Curry or maybe even John Wall is the best point guard. I’m sure Parker’s fine with that. He shouldn’t care since he has four championships, and will be favorite to win his fifth next year.

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