Over the last week or so there has been a hope rising among San Antonio Spurs fans. They were hoping one of the franchise’s top five players of all-time would get traded.
When the Spurs fell one short by one small forward’s terribly bloated contract, there was still a little hope something could happen during the 2011 NBA Draft itself.
But when Spurs fans heard George Hill would go back to actually being “Indiana” George, they had one thing to say, “Why couldn’t it have been Tony?”
It’s a shocking question to read, but in some ways, I’m not surprised to see that. For a large group of Spurs fans, they only feeling they have for Tony Parker is . . . hate.
One fan texted me, “I’m very angry. Words cannot describe. I really wanted Tony gone.”
How could an All-Star point guard who led the Spurs to three NBA Championships and embarrass Cleveland Cavaliers’ Daniel “Boobie” Gibson enough to earn a Finals MVP trophy deserve that kind of open hatred?
It’s a lot easier to see why fans might feel that way about Parker if you take a closer look.
No matter how many times Tony was able to score 20+ points in a playoff game Spurs fans will always remember that 20-year old kid who needed Speedy Claxton to clean up his messes in the 2003 Finals. Spurs fans will look at current champ Jason Kidd and still say the Spurs front office made the wrong choice at point guard. Even this year it seemed like when the team really needed it – outside of that one OT game against Memphis – Tony was no where to be found.
Even though Spurs fans would like their players to have a streak of confidence, most saw Tony as a little cocky and someone that never truly fit in with the “Spurs way.” He dated a starlet, put out French rap albums and was the star of multiple national commercials. Heck, he even has a cartoon airing in France molded around his image. There were also the comments he made to the French media on the Spurs’ championship window, the team’s aging core and how he was the most tradeable asset.
That’s the kind of thing people in the blue-collared Alamo City don’t relate to. They’re used to the Davy Crockett’s, Jim Bowie’s, David Robinson’s and Tim Duncan’s of this world. Parker’s ways never rubbed the fans the right way.
More than anything else though, the most damning thing Spurs fans have on Tony is simple . . . he’s no Manu Ginobili.
As unfair as it is, Tony can’t hold a candle to Manu as far as popularity is concerned. When it’s all said and done, Tony will have more points and assists in a Spurs uniform but he will always go down as the third most popular member of the big three.
For whatever reason, fans will always look at Manu as the underdog that overcame the odds. The guy who fights and scraps for every single thing he ever gets on the court. Tony is the guy they feel was handed the starting point guard spot after Avery Johnson left. That he never truly earned it.
Fair or not, Manu is beloved and Tony is tolerated.
At the end of the day, I kind of feel bad for Tony. He might be the linchpin holding together all the Spurs’ title hopes for the next decade or so, but he’ll never get the love he probably deserves.
Maybe over the next few years Tony can turn it around and be the franchise player fans want him to be.
In the end, Spurs fans can only hope.