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June 12, 2014

Tony Parker

MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about the changes you've seen in Boris from the time he came into the league in Atlanta until now?  And what some of your words of wisdom were for him early on when he was struggling?
TONY PARKER:  But you know for me it's a little bit different because I played with him in the national team, so everything that you see him do today, I've seen him the last four, five years doing that.  He was playing great basketball in Phoenix, had some rough years with the Bobcats.  And when the Spurs asked me about Boris and should we take him, I was like, he'll be a great fit for our team.
I'm so happy for him to see him blossom on the big stage and everybody can see now what he's doing and what he's capable of.
He had a big summer with us last summer with the national team.  He played great basketball, and we finally won our first gold medal, and it was a big thing for us.  And I think it made Boris keep improving and keep getting better, because since he's been with us, we have high expectations every game, we want to win a championship, so it made him be even more focused; take care of his body, he got a chef, and he's been very healthy and he's playing his best basketball right now.
So as his friend since I'm 14 years old, it's just like a dream to be able to win the gold medal with the national team and then this year have another opportunity to win a championship.
When we grew up, you have to put it in perspective, there were not a lot of European guys back in the day.  So we were dreaming about the NBA, and I never thought I'd be with him on the same team competing and being two wins away from a championship.

Q.  Tony, considering the problems that you all had here in Games 6 and 7 in Miami, was there anything cleansing about last night?  The fact that you were able in win in such dramatic fashion in a building where you've struggled so much.
TONY PARKER:  To be honest with you, we didn't even talk about it, Games 6 and 7.  The only time Pop reminded us of that was day 1 in training camp.  That's it.  It's a new year.  That's why I don't like revenge.  It's a rematch.  We're playing a great team.  They're two?time championship, and we didn't even talk about that.
We think we can win on every court.  We have the best record on the road, and we love playing on the road.  Sometimes I feel like we play better on the road than at home.  So I don't think we had doubts that we can win in Miami.  Now we realized it was a crazy game and we're not going to play like that every night, that's for sure.  But hopefully we can keep playing well.

Q.  Have you gotten a sense that there's just something off about Mario Chalmers, whether it's a health issue or something else?  Can a player, when you go against a guy, can you tell when something isn't going quite right?
TONY PARKER:  To be honest, I don't know.  I don't know what's going on.  I just try to do my job and try to stay in front of him and play good defense.  We know that when he has a big game usually Miami wins.  So he's a big X?factor, and we talked about it.  Coach Pop challenged me to make sure I have big games defensively, because last year he had a couple of big games and they won those games.

Q.  On a much different note, what did you enjoy most about your trip to China last year?  Obviously, you had a large international following of course before.
TONY PARKER:  Definitely, definitely.  I love traveling and going to China was an unbelievable experience.  It was my third time.  Brought my whole family.  It was the first time for them.  So we just had a great memories and great experience, and they really took care of me.  It's just great to see another side of the world and interact with your fans.  Just had a great time.

Q.  Have you ever been a part of a game like that where it seemed like every shot you guys took went in?  Have you ever been a part of something like that before?
TONY PARKER:  You know, the first two games we didn't play very well.  Game 1 we had 23 turnovers.  Game 2 we felt like we didn't execute well enough to win the game, and we were up 1 with two minutes to go.  So we felt like it's time for us to play better.  So, obviously, I didn't think we were going to play like that because I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.  But we were feeling that we were due to a game that we're going to play well and ball movement, and make shots and stuff like that.

Q.  If I could just ask you, you and Tim and Manu are used to the media spotlight.  Kawhi's just starting to get into that.  He's kind of a quiet guy, but do you give him any advice on how to deal with us?
TONY PARKER:  Yeah, I've been in his ear the whole first three games.  Like I think that's my job as a point guard to try to encourage everybody and stay positive.  Kawhi was a little bit down the first two games.  I just told him just stay positive, and it's going to turn around.  You just have to keep pushing.  You're playing the best player in the world, and you're going to have ups and downs.  You just have to keep playing.  I've been through that my first couple Finals.  You're up and down.
And I was so proud of Kawhi last night.  He came through big for us.  Had a big game, and hopefully now he can sustain that because Kawhi needs to play well for us to win.  We do it as a team.

Q.  When you're bringing the ball up and you cross half court and you see LeBron James guarding you, what goes through your head?  And how does your strategy change as a point guard?  Have you ever had a guy his size guard you as consistently as he has in your career?
TONY PARKER:  Yeah, obviously, he's a great defender.  But I think for me the key is to find a happy middle between being aggressive or being patient and looking at the advantage that we have.  Because if LeBron's guarding me, that means we have an advantage somewhere match?up?wise with Kawhi or Manu or Danny, so I have to be patient and make sure I call the right stuff.  We talked about it with Pop after Game 2 because that's the kind of series for me I just have to trust my teammates and move the ball.  They're trapping me on the pick?and?rolls, and then in the fourth quarter they're putting LeBron.  So I just have to be patient and look at what's available for us, and just move the ball because Danny and Kawhi are going to have plenty of opportunities if LeBron's guarding me.

Q.  Have you played against someone of his size or had someone of his size guarding you in your career?
TONY PARKER:  No, never, never.  They always put bigger guys on me, but LeBron is by far the biggest, the strongest guy who ever guarded me.  So it's a great challenge for me.  It's a great honor.  It shows a lot of respect by Miami.

Q.  Most of the highlights last night and this morning were shots by Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green.  After all these years, is it kind of weird sometimes when people talk about what you did, and Tim did, and Manu did third, fourth, fifth on the list?
TONY PARKER:  (Laughing) That's fine, as long as we win the championship, that's fine.  We're a team, and that's what they're giving us.  Like I said, they're trapping me on the pick?and?rolls, so I have to move the ball.  If Kawhi and Danny play like that and we win, that's what we're going to do.  As a basketball player, you have to be smart.  And Timmy, Manu and myself will be unselfish and just make the right play.  I think that's what we have to do if we want to win.

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