When the San Antonio Spurs take the court Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks, their roster will be bolstered by one of their former Finals MVPs returning from injury.
Point guard Tony Parker announced via Facebook on Sunday that he will play make his season debut when the Silver and Black host their Interstate 35 rival.
"It has been some tough months with a lot of recovery, patience and mental strength," Parker said in the Facebook post.
Parker hasn’t played in a game since May 3, when he ruptured a left quadriceps tendon while going up for a shot in the paint with 8:43 left in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston.
He had surgery two days later and began a grueling rehab program shortly thereafter. Earlier Sunday, the Spurs upgraded Parker from "out" to questionable for Monday's game.
All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, who has been sidelined since the preseason with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps, remains out. Coach Gregg Popovich has not given a timeline for Leonard's return, although Popovich said recently that it will be "sooner rather than later."
A two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard missed all of training camp with the quad injury that has lingered since last season.
Parker, 35, has been the Spurs’ starting point guard since early in his rookie season (2000-01). A six-time All-Star, he has won four NBA championships with San Antonio and was Finals MVP in 2007.
Parker has said his career-threatening injury has made him more introspective about life and the game he loves.
"You appreciate it a little bit more," Parker said. "You have a different perspective. Puts life in perspective. Sometimes you take stuff for granted and that's normal as human beings. It's easy to walk, but when you can't walk for a whole month, then it definitely makes you appreciate everything, like little stuff in life."
Parker pledged in late May to "come back stronger than ever" and return to play sooner than originally thought after he sustained the worst injury of his long career.
Parker initially was expected to be sidelined until January or possibly even the All-Star break after his surgery, but he told reporters at the Spurs' media day in late September that he was confident he could return by the end of November.
Parker talked to the media then about his long, arduous rehabilitation.
"By far, the toughest thing I ever had to do in my whole career," he said. "I never spent that much time in the weight room. I think it was just great for me overall, for my body, after playing for 16 years (with the Spurs) and 16 summers on the road with the (French) national team.
"I think it was just great for me to get back and basically learn everything. Learn to walk again, and then jump, and running, all the baby steps that you have to do because I couldn't move for three weeks after surgery. I was like paralyzed, so it was just a long time and sometimes very frustrating. You have to be patient and disciplined."
Parker has said he never considered retiring after sustaining the injury. On the contrary, he embraced the challenge of getting back on the court, even when he thought he wouldn't return until 2018.
"I will play my best basketball when I return in January," Parker told the French newspaper L'Equipe in May. Parker also said in the L'Equipe story that he planned to rehab "like a madman and come back stronger than ever."
Selected by San Antonio with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft, Parker was only 19 when he reported to his first training camp with the team that fall. He became the Silver and Black's starting point guard in the fifth game of his rookie season, and held the job for 16 years before getting injured.
The Spurs improved to 12-7 Saturday night with a 106-86 road victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The team's offense has been largely inconsistent without Leonard and Parker, ranking 25th in points per game (100.9). and 17th in field-goal percentage (45.0).
Read the full Facebook post below:
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