As Tony Parker returns to the states a conquering hero for his native France, the MVP of Eurobasket 2013 after leading his side to the gold medal and complaining of fatigue to the San Antonio Express News, the temptation is to sigh, shake our collective heads, mutter a random curse, and bemoan our plight.
After leading Les Bleus to an upset win over Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio's Spanish side, 75-72 in overtime of the semifinal, in which he scored 32 points, Parker throttled down in the Final against Lithuania with just 12 points (on 6-of-17 shooting) and three assists, but Boris Diaw, of all people, picked up the slack and Nicolas Batum had a big game as well, as France won going away 80-66.
While it sounds bad on paper to have your point guard -- the star of your team no less -- express that he's already tired before training camp has even started, I'm not stressing about it all and rather choose to see the positive. Past international successes have always been good for Parker's psyche (and Manu Ginobili's, for that matter) and with the way he ended his season, those last two games in particular, in which he shot 9-of-35, Parker needed some positive reinforcement going into the 2013-14 campaign. Heck, so did Boris Diaw, who in my mind will always be a goat who somehow escaped any blame for his awful defense and horrid rebounding at the end of Game 6. Even Nando De Colo needed a pick-me-up, since he'd been completely erased from the Spurs rotation and will have to show a lot to have a role on this team after a nondescript summer league performance.
The most important thing is that the Spurs seem to have dodged a bullet in that nobody suffered any serious injuries during their off-season excursions, though Parker did have a couple of scares there with his knee early on. With a week to go before camp, there's no real sense in paying much mind to what the fellas are saying about fatigue because it's likely nothing more than the standard excuse-making of veterans who don't want to be run to death by the coaches in camp. If Parker could use being the MVP of the tournament as a "get out of running suicides" card for the first couple weeks of October, then you better believe he will. Honestly, it might be 2014 before we see Parker get in a defensive crouch in earnest. That's fine. It's a part of the deal.
I think Pop was planning on treating his stars with kid gloves this year anyway, but maybe this was just Parker's way of ensuring that, or a quick hint to the media that he's not going to exactly be logging a ton of minutes in the preseason, so don't hound him about it. A preemptive strike, as it were. A proactive warning that, "Hey, my season doesn't start until October 30. Until then I'm going to chill."
It's all good as far as I'm concerned. Parker doesn't have anything to prove in camp or the exhibition games. If he thinks he needs to rest before the regular season, I'm all for it. He's gonna need that rest, because like it or not the Spurs will still be Parker's team for the foreseeable future. Yes, Kawhi Leonard figures to have a bigger role. Danny Green and Tiago Splitter will be counted on more than ever. Marco Belinelli (who really didn't shoot well at all in Eurobasket) figures to be a part of the rotation from day one. Who knows, we might even need meaningful minutes from Cory Joseph and Aron Baynes. Aside from Leonard and Green, all of those guys had international duty in the off-season, and they all more or less thrived. The competition did them good and we can only hope they added bits and pieces to their games.
The deeper the Spurs can be for the regular season, the better. Getting to the mountaintop again will be nearly impossible for this crew, but to have any chance to do it at all, they've got to do without draining Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili too much.
No offense to the wonderful people of France, but if I could've picked just one title for Parker to win this summer, I'm still leaning toward the NBA one.
Get your rest, Tony. You deserve it.