SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs and their followers mentioned “Merci Tony” as they celebrated former star level guard Tony Parker’s profession by retiring his No. 9 jersey on Monday evening.

“Thanks for all these years. It was a loopy experience,” Parker mentioned.

Parker performed for the Spurs for 17 seasons after they chose him with the 28th total choose within the 2001 NBA draft. The Frenchman received 4 NBA championships with the Spurs’ Massive Three that additionally included Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Parker was additionally the primary European to win Finals MVP in 2007 and a six-time All-Star. Furthermore, Parker is taken into account the best Spurs level guard and is the franchise’s all-time chief in assists (6,829). He completed his profession enjoying for the Charlotte Hornets final season.

When requested to elucidate to a French viewers unfamiliar with the custom what deserves a jersey retirement, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich mentioned: “NBA, NFL, Main League Baseball, all our sports activities right here in America, if any individual has exhibited a protracted profession of excellence on the sector, on the courtroom and on the similar time achieved in with class, a superb neighborhood individual, good teammate, all these issues rolled into one, and a workforce has been profitable due to their presence, a jersey retirement will naturally observe.

“It does not occur fairly often. However when it does occur, that particular person was very particular. And that was definitely Tony.”

Parker’s jersey retirement ceremony came about after the Spurs’ 113-109 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at AT&T Middle, which tipped off an hour sooner than standard. In recent times the Spurs performed postgame jersey retirements for Ginobili and Duncan in order that there might be no time restrictions. Spurs followers on this evening got black T-shirts that learn: “Merci Tony” with a cartoon of him making a layup.

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Parker’s former teammates in attendance included: Duncan (now a Spurs assistant coach) Ginobili, David Robinson, Bruce Bowen, Sean Elliott, Hornets ahead Nicolas Batum, Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill, Washington Wizards heart Ian Mahinmi, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, Roger Mason, Ronny Turiaf, Tiago Splitter and Malik Rose. Additionally attending had been French soccer legend Thierry Henry, Hornets coach James Borrego, Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka, Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder common supervisor Sam Presti, French judo star Teddy Riner and executives from Asvel — the French males’s and ladies’s basketball membership that Parker owns. Parker mentioned there have been 300 individuals in attendance from his “French mafia.”

Robinson really walked into the sector sporting a Tony Parker VIP credential and was informed by a Spurs official that he did not have to put on it.

“I positively needed to be right here for my man Tony,” Robinson mentioned to the Spurs official.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili applaud Tony Parker as he watches his jersey raised to the rafters. Ronald Cortes/Getty Photos

Popovich was the primary to talk on the retirement ceremony and he apologized to Parker for teaching him laborious early in his profession, mentioned he shall be a Naismith Memorial Corridor of Famer and informed him he liked him. Diaw spoke for the French contingent in attendance, saying, “You may’t discuss French basketball with out Tony developing.”

Robinson described the evening as “very particular for him” and added that Parker had a “nice coronary heart” and was “among the finest teammates” he ever had. Duncan mentioned Parker was “the toughest coached particular person” with the Spurs and a “level guard I liked to play with the remainder of my profession.” Ginobili mentioned that Parker’s fixed help gave him “optimism” early in his Spurs profession and it has been a “true pleasure, want you all the very best in your publish profession and I thanks for every thing.”

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Following a six-minute video tribute, Parker took the microphone at midcourt with the stands packed and his spouse, two kids, Popovich, Duncan, Ginobili, Robinson, Diaw, Bowen, Spurs common supervisor R.C. Buford and Spurs taking pictures coach Chip Engelland sitting earlier than him. His 4 NBA championship trophies had been additionally on the ground.

Parker known as Popovich by his private nickname — “Popo” — and mentioned he accepted his apology, known as him a second father and thanked him for “believing in him.”

Parker known as Robinson by his nickname “5-Zero” and mentioned he was the “image of easy methods to be an expert” and that Robinson did loads for him off the courtroom. Parker additionally informed Duncan and Ginobili that he wouldn’t need to begin a workforce with any two different gamers and that he loves their friendship and bond essentially the most. He additionally thanked a number of former teammates, his spouse and youngsters, his French supporters and the followers.

Parker’s speech lasted practically about 17 minutes and he completed by saying, “Earlier than I’m going I need to do one factor with the Spurs followers all collectively. That is my final favor earlier than I’m going. Simply think about we’re within the [Alamo] Dome. I used to be 19. Simply think about. We’re enjoying the Lakers and it is Kobe [Bryant] and Shaq [O’Neal]. And I desire a massive, ‘Go, Spurs, Go,’ on three … Yet one more final time all collectively. One, two, three …”

The Spurs followers loudly obliged Parker’s request and subsequent got here the long-awaited reveal of his No. 9 jersey hanging within the rafters.

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