(Reuters) - Four-times NBA champion Tony Parker will return to the site of his past glory on Monday when he visits San Antonio for the first time since departing for Charlotte in the off-season. When Parker left the Spurs to sign a two-year deal with the Hornets this past off-season it signaled the official end to an era.
“He came from an organization that’s been the best for the past 20 years,” Charlotte team mate Nicolas Batum told Reuters. “The way he is, his attention to detail, makes him special.”
It is certain to be an emotional occasion when Parker takes the court at AT&T Center once again.
“I won’t be surprised if there are tears in my eyes,” Parker told the San Antonio Express-News shortly after signing with the Hornets.In Charlotte, the 36-year-old point guard has found a soft landing spot for his career descent.The Hornets offer a young roster ripe for Parker’s mentoring, a coach in James Borrego who spent seven seasons with Parker as an assistant with the Spurs, and a French compatriot in Batum who doubles as a trusted friend and business partner.Parker and Batum’s shared history dates back to the latter’s rise as an up-and-coming teenage prospect.The elder Parker was always just a phone call away, offering advice on diet and lifestyle.The duo would later team up to earn glory for the French National Team before uniting this year on the NBA front.Parker and Batum also share business interests as both are owners of French club ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne and run its basketball operations.The two can often be seen watching games together on a mobile phone aboard buses, planes and over dinner.
“He knows all the good restaurants in Charlotte,” said Batum, of Parker. “I didn’t have to show him any.”Parker’s influence has been positive on the court for the Hornets (19-23) as well.
The team gives the 18th-year player occasional rest days, and Parker has looked rejuvenated at times while averaging 9.4 points and 3.8 assists off the bench.He has four 20-point efforts this year after recording just one a season ago. Parker is also helping the team grasp the new concepts of a young head coach.”Tony understands all of my terminology from our time together,” Borrego said. “He’s like another coach.”
Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Davis