In 2003 when San Antonio Spurs' center David Robinson made it known it was going to be his farewell season, Tim Duncan took notice.
He not only took notice, he took it upon himself to dominate the playoffs and carry the team on his shoulders. Duncan averaged 24.7ppg, 15.4rpg, and 5.3apg during that postseason. The desire to have his mentor go out in celebration with a championship drove Duncan's will those playoffs.
It seems that we may be seeing a replay of that with the exception of the players involved. Now Duncan is on his last few years with his career winding down and now Tony Parker wants to help Duncan have a similar send off as Robinson.
In an interview with Basket USA's website, Parker lays out his mission for this season.
"I want to win one again for Timmy. I think that everybody on the team understands that.
Before Parker went down with an injury, his numbers and leadership were being shown he was taking this mission on his shoulders like Duncan did years ago. Parker's MVP-like numbers of 21ppg and 7.6apg, all career highs. This is the first year where head coach Gregg Popovich has also fully given the team to Parker.
The Spurs went from a slow paced team to an up tempo squad and that blueprint has Parker's influence all over it. While the Spurs are running more, they're also defending like the Spurs of old.
Since their last championship, this is probably the best chance for the team to win their fifth championship and for the cornerstone who made it possible all those years. With Parker out for four weeks because of a left ankle sprain, don't let it fool you that he'll be looking to slow down. It's only a few more weeks until the playoffs and that's what Parker's been waiting for.
Parker isn't just writing his name in the Spurs' history books of the team's greatest players, but also looking to thank his mentor just like Duncan did. Parker may be in the running for MVP candidate, but the only MVP trophy that matters is the one in June and which team is hoisting it up alongside the Larry O'Brien trophy.