October 4, 2022

LAS VEGAS — NBA legend Tony Parker believes the Boston Celtics can emulate the San Antonio Spurs’ path to a championship following their 2022 NBA Finals loss to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Before the Warriors pulled off three straight wins to close out the Finals, it was the Celtics who held a 2-1 series lead. Boston appeared to briefly take control of games at times in the series, including double-digit leads in each of Games 4-6, but it was Steph Curry who led the Warriors to their fourth NBA championship in eight seasons. .

The only thing Spurs and Celtics share is coach Ime Udoka. Udoka was an assistant coach on the staff of Gregg Popovich who lost to the Miami Heat in 2013. That same team followed the Finals collapse with an absolute clinic in 2014, convincingly beating the Heat in five games.

“For me, the way we lost in 2013 created what happened in 2014,” Parker told ClutchPoints at the World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas. “Possibly one of the best Finals in NBA history and possibly the best Spurs basketball we played in 2014. The way we played, the passing game, everything. We We were maybe at the highest level of my entire career with Spurs, that was in 2014. It started with a tough defeat in 2013.”

The Spurs won the franchise’s five NBA championships during the 19 years of the Gregg Popovich-Tim Duncan era. Parker joined Spurs shortly after their first in 1999, playing an important starting role in the remaining four titles. 2013 marked the first and only time the Spurs lost in the NBA Finals. And lose decisive Game 6 the way they did – up five points with 28 seconds left, then blowing Game 7 as well?

For the whole group, these were uncharted waters.

“I hate losing,” said Tony Parker when asked what stuck with him. “I just hate losing.

“I think about it every day for sure. Especially the way we lost, like crazy in 2013 because we were ahead by five by 28 seconds and we were like winning the championship. Like 99% of the time, you win this game, but we went to overtime, lost game 6. We lost game 7, and it was a tough way to lose when you’re up 3-2.

The Spurs responded by setting the NBA’s best record and the third-best season in franchise history with a 62–20 record. They would take out the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder before eviscerating the Miami Heat in five games, averaging 14 points to win.

Ball movement and player involvement were so excellent that Spurs did not have a single player average more than 16.7 points during the regular season and no player averaged 20 points in one. of their four playoff series.

“The way we came back, I’m very proud of it. Shows a lot of character in the team. For the Celtics, that’s what they have to do. They are still young. We were old and always came back so they can definitely do that.

More than anything, Tony Parker is convinced of the ability of the Celtics to bounce back thanks to the man at the helm who directs them.

“[Ime Udoka] was with us those years, so he can definitely take things from what we had to go through. I played with him as teammates, I had him as a coach, so he went through everything with us. He knows better than anyone how to bounce back from a tough NBA Finals.

Boston held the edge when it came to athleticism, but the Warriors figured things out midway through the series, making life hell for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It’s part of the Celtics’ growing pains, but Tony Parker thinks they’re not going anywhere.

“It’s amazing. It’s not easy in [Udoka’s] first year to reach the final. Very happy for him, very proud of him, and what he’s done with this group is pretty impressive. I think Boston is going to be good for a long time.

The Celtics have a bright future ahead of them. With the exception of Al Horford, Boston’s core is either at its peak or entering its peak. Marcus Smart, 27, is coming off a year in which he won Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum is still only 23, Robert Williams 24 and Jaylen Brown 25.

Bouncing back won’t be easy, as the Eastern Conference is set to be a bloodbath again with the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks all reorganizing with the intention of making the playoffs. deeper.