By Jeff Taylor
Tony Parker Senior is in Madrid this week at EuroBasket 2007 watching his namesake, a certain star with the San Antonio Spurs, play for France.
But the competition is so good that he can’t seem to pull himself away from the action.
After watching his son Parker pour in 23 points to lead France past Germany and Dirk Nowitzki, 78-66, on Saturday, Parker Sr stayed behind to watch Lithuania edge out Italy and he didn’t leave until Slovenia had conquered Turkey.
The basketball, he says, is just too good to pass up.
“I love it,” he told FIBA Europe. “After spending 20 years in Europe and playing basketball there for 15 years myself, I think European basketball is at a very high level and it’s getting better and better.
|Tony Parker Jr first beat his father|
one on one when he was 17
“All of the countries, and players, have gotten even better.”
Two significant events propelled basketball forward during Parker’s days in Europe.
Greece’s national team upset the heavily favoured Soviet Union in the final of the 1987 EuroBasket.
The game captured the imagination of sports fans not only in Athens but all over the continent.
The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the US Dream Team captured the gold medal, also won a lot of new fans to the sport.
However, Parker Sr believes there were other factors.
“When I arrived in the late 1970’s, early 1980s, it was still in the building stages,” Parker explained.
“After a lot of American coaches started coming over, and a lot of (basketball) camps, the players, by working a lot on fundamentals, have gotten better and also with the NBA as well.”
Watching the games has made one thing very clear for him.
“I think the Europeans concentrate a lot more on the fundamentals of the game and being able
to play all facets of the game, the big men as well as the wing men as well as the point guards,” Parker Sr observed.
||European basketball is at a very high level right now
|Tony Parker Senior|
Father of French player
“They all try to be fundamentally sound and after that, they all work on their techniques.”
He recalled that when his son turned 17, it marked the turning point in their one-on-one battles on the court.
“I took it bad,” he said, with not a hint of a smile, of losing his first game against his son. “I’m a bad loser. But I did pass the torch for him to begin and for me to end.
“He’s been playing with the French national team since he was 14-15 years old. So he’s used to playing with them. It’s just basketball.”
As for which team is going to win EuroBasket 2007, Parker Sr reserves the right to make his mind up later in the tournament.
“For me, it’s too early to tell,” he said. “I think you have to favour the home team, Spain. But, it remains to be seen.”