Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich are officially Hall-of-Famers. The Spurs legends received their orange jackets and were enshrined on Saturday, with Parker making it the first year he was eligible and Pop finally relenting and accepting the distinction.
It was a certainty that both were going to get in but doing it together made the celebration special. Pop reportedly requested that Parker be enshrined before him, as a gesture. Only after all of the members of the Big Three were in was their coach willing to step into the spotlight, which highlights how special the relationship of the core of those teams really was.
It was clearly a fun night for everyone involved, so let’s take a look at some of the best moments from the ceremony.
Boris Diaw was there too!
The honorees get to pick who gives hands them the jacket and Tony Parker had a familiar face behind him. Boris Diaw was there to be a part of the ceremony. Parker picked his brothers, along with Diaw and close friend and former NBA player Ronny Turiaf to be beside him. Parker has been friends with those two ever since being at the INSEP in France when they were teenagers and that bond is still clearly there.
For Spurs fans, it’s always great to see Diaw in any environment.
Pop didn’t have any famous friends handing him his. Instead, he decided to have his adorable young granddaughter there. It was a sweet moment.
Overall, 10/10 picks from both, no complaints.
It was heartwarming to see how much the honor meant to Tony
At this point, Tony Parker is a seasoned entertainer. It wasn’t surprising to see him play the hits — Tim Duncan not talking to him his first year, Pop being mean to him, etc. — to a new crowd and do so with his usual charisma. TP also made sure to mention everyone who was important to him, including Michael Finley, who he forgot to include in his jersey retirement ceremony. The Hornets got a mention, his teammates from the French national team got a mention, R.C. Buford and Chip Engelland got a mention. It was very professional of Tony, for the most part.
There was a section in the middle of his speech, though, where Parker simply couldn’t be his typically cool self. When addressing his father, Tony broke down crying. At that moment it was clear how much getting to such heights in his career meant not only for TP but for the people who were there for the ride. Tony wasn’t afraid to show his more vulnerable side on Saturday.
Pop gave people a glimpse of the roots of his coaching tree
There are a lot of coaches out there with ties to the Spurs. People who have worked under Gregg Popovich have not had a hard time finding jobs and some of them have had tremendous success. The coaching tree has grown over the years more than anyone could have anticipated. Pop has clearly not only been a teacher to his players but also to his assistants.
We’ve heard all of that before. Pop’s origin story, however, is more obscure, which is why it was so interesting to hear him tell it. He talked about falling in love with the game in his native Indiana and made sure to mention as many people who helped him in the past as he could remember. From Hank Egan to Don Nelson, his mentors were mentioned. His Pomona-Pitzer assistants got some love, too. Watching Pop trace his path from being waived by the Nuggets when he was still trying to make it as a player to the Hall of Fame as a coach really put things in perspective. The beginnings truly were humble.
Pop’s entire speech is worth a listen and so is Tony’s. Ceremonies like these can feel a little too rehearsed at times, but there are always little gems that slip through and give the fans a better insight into the minds of the legends.