San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has challenged Tony Parker to become a franchise player, and the veteran point guard has played like it with Tim Duncan out with a knee injury.
Popovich will be back on the sidelines for the first time in four games, but Duncan's return is questionable as the NBA-leading Spurs go for a ninth straight win and 17th in a row at home Wednesday night against the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats.
Parker was a crucial part to the Spurs' title runs in 2003, '05 and '07, and was just named an All-Star for the fifth time, but playing next to Duncan for his entire 12-year career has hurt his value in terms of how some outside the organization view him.
It's a different story inside San Antonio's locker room.
"He is unbelievable," teammate Manu Ginobili said after Parker scored 11 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 108-99 victory over Phoenix. "... He is in that point of his career where he is so confident. He is doing so good that he c...