NBA veteran Tony Parker — who agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets on Friday morning — cleared something up for Spurs fans on Friday as he prepared to leave San Antonio for the first time in his career.
Parker said he never had any issues with Spurs star Kawhi Leonard — who missed nearly all of last season due to a lingering quad injury. Their beef, which stemmed from comments Parker made in March about how his quad injury last year was “100 times worse,” was apparently blown way out of proportion.
“I have no problem with Kawhi Leonard. We never had an argument,” Parker told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. “When the journalist asked me if my injury was worse than Kawhi’s, I said yes because it was true. But that didn’t lessen the significance of his injury. He took over the franchise and I gave up the torch of the franchise willingly.
“It’s very sad that the media took one quote and made it sound like I didn’t want to play with him. He was the face of the franchise.”
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 6, 2018
Leonard is currently seeking a trade after playing in only nine games last season because of his injured right quad. His relationship with the Spurs was reportedly rough throughout his entire rehab process. While Leonard impressed the Spurs in workouts late in the season, the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 Finals MVP backed down each time he or the Spurs wanted him to return to the court. There was even a players only meeting late in the season to check up on Leonard in time for a playoff push.
Parker suffered a ruptured quad injury during the 2016-17 season, but still appeared in 63 games.
Tony Parker on his return from the career-threatening quad injury he suffered last May: I’ve been through it. It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury (as Kawhi), but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) March 23, 2018
“I’ve been through it,” Parker told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News in March. “It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury (as Kawhi), but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive.”
Parker was the No. 28 overall pick by the Spurs in the 2001 NBA draft, and has spent his entire career in San Antonio. The four-time NBA champion, 2007 Finals MVP and six time All-Star averaged 7.7 points and 3.5 assists in 55 games last season.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave a heartfelt goodbye to the Spurs icon on Friday after Parker agreed to a deal with the Hornets, too.
“It’s difficult to put into words how important Tony Parker has been to the Spurs franchise over the past two decades,” Popovich said in a statement. “From his first game in 2001 at age 19, TP has impressed and inspired us — day-after-day, game-after-game, season-after-season — with his passion, dedication and desire.
“We are grateful to Tony for 17 years of truly amazing memories. While the four championships, six All-Star appearances and four All-NBA selections highlight his resume, the biggest joy for me has been to have the pleasure of watching TP grow up before our eyes. All of us in the Spurs organization will miss having Tony in our program and wish him and his family the best as he continues his remarkable career in Charlotte.”
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