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"I think they really didn't believe I was gonna leave anyway"

Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich

Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich

We got to peek under the hood of the San Antonio Spurs, something that doesn't often happen in NBA. The best organization in the past 20 years is efficient and private except for the whole Kawhi situation, not a lot of leaks from San Antonio. The only chance is when a player retires or returns to San Antonio and shares his experiences while playing there, for instance, Tony Parker coming back after signing with Charlotte this summer.

It will really look weird, won't it, seeing him in another uniform? Anxious to see him. We talk frequently. He's always going to be a part of my thoughts. I always felt like a second daddy to him over the years, and he's been like a son. He's just a friend for life, and somebody I will always care about.

The connection Pop has with the Spurs big three has been well documented. The entire Spurs organization runs like a family and many role players that spend just a season in San Antonio have talked about the connection that is always there. You know what they say, don't do business with family. When the time came to negotiate a new contract with Parker, Pop told him he would be the third PG on the team. The organization counted on his sentiment to run it out as a Spur, the same way Manu and Timmy did. They were wrong (via ESPN). 

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Pop just told me that I was going to be the third point guard, and I had to think really hard about if I was going to stay, so then I told him I'm not gonna stay. I think they really didn't believe I was gonna leave anyway. I think they thought I'd be like Manu and just stay.

Still, a sequence of events had to have happened for Tony to leave the Spurs. Manu retiring made it feel like it wasn't the team he wants to be on anymore. That didn't necessarily mean he would just resign anywhere; after a severe injury and so many miles on his back, it had to be the right fit. So when James Borrego got hired in Charlotte, Tony knew he had a place to go where he knows the coach, and he would be appreciated. Playing for MJ's team doesn't hurt as well. To top it all off, his friend and business partner Nicolas Batum plays in Charlotte - he had someone he trusts to talk to about the organization. The final touch was something every Spur does, talk with Tim Duncan. He no longer plays, but everyone still needs his opinion before making a big decision. So Borrego, Batum, MJ, and Timmy needed to align for him to feel this was the right move. 

He is now playing behind Kemba and leading the locker room. All the players talk about his influence from day 1 and how much his experience means for their development. Still, when it is all over he plans to settle down in San Antonio and will probably have a role with the organization. Once a Spur, always a Spur. 

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