Tony Parker knows about “Big Threes.” He, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were by far the most successful trio in NBA history with 575 wins in the regular season and 126 in the post-season, enough to get to the Finals five times, winning it all four between 2002 and 2016. Three other times, they got to the conference Finals and no point in those years did the Spurs win less than 50 games. And as individuals, they also won four MVPs, four Finals MVPs, one Sixth Man of the Year and were selected to a grand total of 23 All-Star teams. All three are now in the Basketball Hall of Fame
So as someone who specialized in the success of “Big Three’s” alongside Duncan and Ginobili, Parker gave his thoughts this week on the whole phenomenon that Nets fans had to witness for the past couple of years with their ill-fated “Big Three.” The interview, part of adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, was conducted for 1st Class Ticket and NetsDaily.
Asked why the Nets “Big Three” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden never even get out of the second round, he didn’t mince words. It wasn’t chemistry or injuries or controversy that denied Nets fans what Spurs fans took for granted...
“For sure we had a “Big Three” and it worked out great and that’s one of the things that I think why we were so successful. We never let our ego be in front of the team’s success,” Parker said.
Parker, who was the last of the Spurs “Big Three” to enter the Hall of Fame in April, credited Duncan, the acknowledged leader of the Spurs, with the unselfishness needed to mold and sustain success. Parker noted Duncan could have simply decided it was his team and dominated.
“It just showed how unselfish we were as a team. Especially Timmy,” he added. “Timmy for me is one of the most unselfish superstars ever because he could’ve said no, it’s my team, and it was his team, it was Tim’s team and try to win the MVP.”
Parker specifically noted how in 2007, Duncan gave him responsibility in the Finals vs. LeBron James’ Cavaliers. Parker wound up as Finals MVP.
“He was like, ‘nah Tony, let’s do it. you get the ball and you keep going.’ So that was pretty cool that as a team it felt very nice to you know, have that feeling with him.”
Parker didn’t talk specifically about what went wrong in Brooklyn — saying he didn’t know, but acknowledged how the Nets went from being “king of the world” to basically doing nothing.
“It felt like they were the king of the world when they had KD, Kyrie and James Harden and they all left. I don’t know what to think about that to be honest,” he said. “I don’t know where you go from there ... It’s very interesting to have that many superstars in such a short window and basically, they didn’t do anything in three years. So it’s crazy but it just shows you there’s no guarantee. It’s hard to win. It’s hard to win a championship. There’s no perfect formula. You can have a superstar but...”
As for challenges going forward now faced by his former teammate and assistant coach Sean Marks, Parker characterized the post-”Big Three” environment as a “mess” but acknowledged Marks was able to acquire some talented players in the three “Big Three” trades,
“I’m like man … good luck Sean … Sean Marks. The GM who was my teammate I’m like man … it’s a mess. I don’t know. I don’t know where you go from there. ,” said Parker. “They picked up some good talent on those trades.”
Parker also talked about Victor Wembanyama, who could be the foundation stone for another San Antonio “Big Three,” telling 1st Class Ticket and NetsDaily how it was destiny for Wemby, his protege’, to wind up with his team ... and Gregg Popovich who had previously coached Duncan and David Robinson.
“He played for my team, Avsel, the team that I own in France. So I know him very well,” Parker said of his 7’5” countryman. “His sister is in my academy. His little brother is in my academy. So I have the whole family.
“So it was crazy at the draft, the lottery thing. Everybody was hoping, obviously, that we would get No. 1. The Spurs were, ‘Come on, it can be destiny’ and destiny happened.”