Posted on June 12, 2012 at 8:03 AM
Thursday, Jun 21 at 1:58 PM
The way Tony Parker sees it, the best way to speed up the process of getting over the Spurs' stunning collapse in the Western Conference finals is to return to the basketball court as soon as possible.
That's why focusing on the Summer Olympics in London, where Parker will play for France, may be just the tonic he needs to put some distance between himself and one of the worst four-game stretches of his 11-year career with the Spurs.
"I prefer a quick turnaround because like that I can rest before the next season," Parker said Monday. "That's why I prefer the quick turnaround, because I'm still in shape. We finish Aug. 12 and then I've got a month and a half before we start next season, so I prefer it like that."
Parker was scheduled to fly to France on Tuesday to start getting ready for the French national team's training camp, which begins June 20. Parker, 30, was born in Bruges, Belgium, but raised in France.
He dropped by the Spurs' youth basketball camp Monday afternoon at the McDermott Center on the University of the Incarnate Word campus, entertaining campers and their parents with his ball-handling skills before talking with the media.
Parker said he's "very excited" about starting workouts with the French team, which plays the United States and Argentina in its first two Olympic games. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili will play for Argentina.
"It's going to be tough the first two games, but it's the Olympics," Parker said. "It's normal. You expect the top 12 countries, so it's going to be tough competition."
Parker says he'll use playoff collapse as motivation
One of the top point guards in the NBA, Parker is coming off one of his best seasons ever. He averaged 18.3 points and a career-best 7.7 assists during the regular season, and 20.1 points and 6.8 assists in the playoffs.
Parker's outstanding season mirrored the success of the Spurs, who finished the regular season 50-16 and tied the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the league.
The Spurs reeled off a 20-game winning streak that included a 10-0 start in the playoffs before they went into a tailspin they couldn't pull out of.
After taking a 2-0 lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference finals and drawing within six victories of their fifth NBA title, the Spurs ended their promising playoff run with a four-game losing streak.
"I still have the Spurs in my mind, and what I could do better, all the stuff we could do better," Parker said. "It's going to hurt for a while. You use it as motivation for next year and then come back strong next year, and keep improving. That's what I try to do, always try to get better every year."
While the Spurs remained one of the NBA's elite teams, Parker expressed mixed emotions about the season.
"Yeah, if you look overall, we had a great season," Parker said. "But it's hard for me think like that right now because I'm still very disappointed and very sad that we didn't go to the NBA finals. But if you look at the big picture, of course it was a good season. We finished in the top four.
"But, you know, here in San Antonio we always want to win championships, so I'm sure it's going to be tough for another week, or until I start playing with the national team. Then I'll think of something else."
Parker expects to see Duncan in Spurs lineup next season
Parker chuckled when he was asked if the Spurs' proverbial window for another run at an NBA title is still open.
"Of course," he said.
Parker expressed confidence Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and team general manager R.C. Buford will keep the Silver & Black in the hunt.
"With San Antonio, you never know what's going to happen," Parker said. "R.C. and Pop proved it many times. They bring in players you've never heard of and they play great, so I expect them to find some players and improve our team, and get right back here next year."
Parker said he didn't know how much longer Spurs captain Tim Duncan, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1, will continue to play. Duncan already has said he wouldn't consider playing for another team, calling himself "a Spur for life."
Duncan hasn't said definitively whether he'll return for another season with the Silver & Black, but the general consensus is that he will play for at least another year.
"He looked great this year, the way that Pop managed him," Parker said. "He did a great job and I expect him to have a great season next year."