Tony Parker: "An NBA season is like a marathon"
What has it been like playing in the NBA ?
Tony Parker: It was like a dream come true. The NBA is where all the best compete and I've always wanted to come here one day. I had posters of Jordan on my wall and wanted to emulate him. Everything is so professional in the NBA. I don't even have to carry my bag. They come and pick it up for me, put it in my car and straight at the hotel. Can you imagine?
When you were in Paris , did you have a chance to see Jordan play one day?
TP: Oh yeah. When he came with the Chicago Bulls at the McDonald's Open in Paris I went to see him play. I was there.
So, you were a little disappointed when you couldn't play against him this year? (Jordan and Parker were one after the other on the disabled list respectively on December 4th and January 15th).
TP: Yes a little. It would have been fun but I'll be able to catch up for it next year.
What was the most difficult thing for you at the beginning of the season to adapt to your new environment?
TP: Well, I would say it was to receive the respect of my teammates. Why would a veteran like David Robinson trust a 19-year-old French rookie?
Any hazing you had to endure as a rookie?
TP: Well, it could have been worse. Terry Porter teases me sometimes and asks me to go and pick up donuts. But nothing compared to what they do to other rookies in other teams I hear.
Are you happy with the first half of your NBA season?
TP: In general, I'm pretty satisfied with the way I played. I started the season strong then I had a little let down. Now I'm a little up and down. I didn't realize an NBA season was like a marathon. I played a lot this summer
You were selected to the Rookie All-Star Game, how did it feel?
TP: It was great. Honestly. I had everything a rookie would ever dream of. I was selected to the rookie game then included into the starting five after four games with the Spurs. Now, I'm not excepting anything more on individual achievements. I just want San Antonio to clinch the NBA's best record and go to the Finals.
Being a point guard is all about decision-making. Are you proud that you are one of the first European point guards to make an impact in the NBA?
Speaking of Gasol, he will probably become the first European to win Rookie of the Year Honors. What do you think about him?
TP: Well, I'm a little surprised. He was a very good player in Europe but he didn't dominate the way he is dominating today. What he's doing is really amazing.
What do you see as major differences between the NBA and European basketball?
TP: The game is so much more physical here. The game is also much quicker. You cannot take your time to move the ball forward. You have to react quickly.
Do you think the gap between the American Dream Team and the Europeans is closing?
TP: Definitely, but we still have a long way to go before getting close to the Americans. I mean they still dominate. But you will not see them win with 40 points like in the '92 Olympics against European teams anymore.
Araz Gulekjian is the correspondent of "L'Equipe" in New York and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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