Tony Parker: "We need a little bit of urgency"
The Nuggets scored three points in the first quarter against you the other night. How does an NBA team score only three points in a quarter?
Tony Parker: It felt weird. At first, I didn’t even pay attention. I didn’t even know they had just three points. When the first quarter end and you look at the score and you say “Whoa, they only scored three points.” I guess we were just mad. We were mad because we lost the game against Denver in Denver. We just reacted and came on strong the second game.
What is the best thing about not being a rookie anymore?
TP: (Laughs) Everything… Not bringing the doughnuts anymore. Rookie this, rookie that, that’s finished… I feel more comfortable with my teammates. I feel more comfortable with the system, how to play the NBA game. I feel more comfortable with my team, how they play. I just feel more comfortable with everybody, living life in the States. I just feel more confident with everything.
Having grown up in France, you have had to make adjustments culturally as well.
TP: Yeah, it’s everything, it’s not just basketball-wise, it’s life-wise. You have to find a house, buy a car, find an accountant in the States. It’s everything, it’s not just basketball. It helped that my father is American and speaks English.
TP: It makes me happy to play on a winning team. I’ve got a chance to win a championship. Not every team can say they can play for a championship. I was just happy to play with superstars like Tim and David, future Hall-of-Famers, it’s just great, it just makes my job easier.
Were you concerned about what team you would wind up with at the time?
TP: Not really. I was just hoping I would be drafted in the first round and just play on a good team and just have a chance to show my skills.
You grew up in a totally different environment than most of the guys in the league. What is your impression of the hip-hop persona and street attitude the NBA has a reputation for?
TP: Oh, it’s the same thing in Europe. Now it’s everywhere.
One of the reasons NBA teams have been attracted to the foreign players is because they seem to have developed better basic basketball skills. Do you feel you benefited from growing up in France in that respect?
TP: In Europe, we start playing professionally at 15, 16 [years old] and you play with the older guys. I think you have more experience than the younger guys in the States. So I think so, yes.
Is David Robinson retirement after this season bittersweet for you, in that you got to play with him, but for only two seasons?
TP: I’m just happy to have played with him for two years. For me it was great to be around a guy like that who is a superstar in the league, won the MVP, one of the top 50 greatest. I’ve learned a lot from him. It makes the season a little bit special. We want to work hard and try to do something for his last season. It’d be nice if we can go all the way.
In light of Robinson’s retirement and Duncan’s reported desire to play with Jason Kidd, what do you see for the future of this team beyond this season?
TP: We’ll see. It’s kind of early in the season. It’s hard to say what he’s going to do. We’ll see after the season. It depends what we’re going to do in the playoffs. We’ll see.
Are you satisfied with the team’s start? Does Dallas’ strong start have any effect on your approach?
TP: So-so... We can do better. We lost two tough games, in Denver and at home against Seattle. It makes it difficult because Dallas has an awesome start. It’s going to be hard to catch them. When we start the season, the first [goal] is to win our division and now it’s going to be hard against Dallas because they’re playing very well.
Because of that, do you put aside the goal of winning the division and just concentrate on winning as many games as possible and getting the highest playoff slot possible?
TP: Yeah, because it’s early in the season. As a team you just try to get better. Because they started like that we need a little bit of urgency and try to win a lot of games. The key is to get better as a team because in the playoffs we have to be better as a team and we have all season to try to progress.
Steven Koek is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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