Four-time NBA champion Tony Parker had a long career with the San Antonio Spurs, the same team that took the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
The Spurs selected French phenom Victor Wembanyama with the first pick, a decision that Parker says is a positive sign for the future of the franchise.
«I know he wanted to go to San Antonio, and it feels like destiny, with the French connection we’ve built over the years,» Parker told The Associated Press on Friday. «And it’s going to carry on the legacy. It’s great.»
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Parker, who spent 17 seasons in a Spurs uniform, also described San Antonio as the «perfect place» for the 19-year-old Wembanyama.
The 7-foot-4 big man enters the NBA with high expectations. Wembanyama dominated in his final season with the Metropolitans 92 in France, where he led all players in scoring, rebounding and blocking.
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Wembanyama brings a special mix of size and atheism to the league.
«He’s unique,» Parker said. «His skill set is unique. You know, we’ve never seen a guy, a 7-5 (player), shooting like that, and having the dribbling skills that he has, and the way he plays, it’s just different. I can’t look forward to seeing him play for the Spurs.»
Wembanyama previously played for Villeurbanne, a club Parker owns, and they have developed a friendly relationship.
«So when the Spurs won the lottery, we talked, we texted and it was the same thing last night,» Parker said. «I’m very happy for him and I will definitely try to support him.»
Asked what kind of advice he would give Wembanyama for a quick adjustment to the Spurs and the NBA, Parker said the guy just needs to be himself.
«And it already is,» Parker said. «He doesn’t mind the pressure and the expectation, and I think Spurs are the perfect place for him. He’s in very good hands.»
After matching a league record of 22 consecutive playoff appearances, San Antonio hasn’t reached the postseason in the past four seasons, the longest drought in the franchise’s 50-year history. Parker believes the arrival of Wembanyama will help rebuild a competitive team.
«That’s a good first piece,» he said. «Now he’s going to need help, winning an NBA championship is the hardest thing you’re going to have to do. So with the Spurs, we’ve got a lot of work to do right now to try to bring pieces back.» around them that they’re going to fit in, so we can fight for a championship.»
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Wembanyama’s rise to the top will also benefit France, Parker said.
«It’s great for basketball, it’s great for French basketball,» Parker said. «Obviously the next few years look bright for us with the national team.»
Associated Press contributed to this report.