The video above is awesome because Tony Parker had just hit a miraculous shot with the shot clock running down to give the Spurs a two-possession lead in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with five seconds left.
He then proceeds to the huddle, and after consulting with coach Popovich, he becomes Coach Parker and tells the teams all the things they should and shouldn’t do when you’re up four points with five seconds left.
But this moment is so special because of where the Popovich-Parker relationship started over a decade ago.
You see, when Popovich attended pre-draft camp in 2001, and laid his eyes on Parker as a potential draft pick, he concluded that Parker was too soft. Pop told general manager R.C. Buford that he never wanted to see Parker again.
After a subsequent workout convinced the Spurs otherwise, they drafted the 19-year old point guard, but even so, there was still a learning curve. During one of the games early in his career, Parker shook off a play call from coach Popovich, who was so irate that he told his point guard: “Do that again, and I’ll play Steve Kerr 95 minutes a night if I have to!”
When the Spurs won their second of four championships in 2003 with Parker as their point guard, it was against the backdrop of whether the team would go after Jason Kidd — the point guard that Parker had just defeated in the Finals — in the off-season.
After Kidd re-signed with the Nets, Parker told his coach: “I want to be the point guard. I want to do it and I’m going to work hard to become a great player.”
He’s lived up to those words, winning three championships, the Finals MVP in 2007, and in Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals, in this one beautiful moment between a wonderful coach and his brilliant point guard, the growth of their relationship and the trust between them was on full display for all of us to see.