Tony Parker interview after winning Finals MVP
Thursday night the San Antonio Spurs, playing on the road, beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 83-82, winning Game 4 and sweeping the Cavs to win the 2006-07 NBA championship. Spurs point guard Tony Parker was named Finals MVP. Here's what he said after the game:
Q. You have a lot of family and friends with you all spring, staying with you, and I think some of them have been here in Cleveland. What's it meant for you to have that whole group with you in what's been obviously such a great season?
TONY PARKER: My teammates, they always joke with me that I've always got the French Mafia with me. I've always got people with me. I just like to share those moments with my family and my friends. And one of my best friends just came from London, and I've got my brothers and my dad. And I'm just so happy to share those moments, because I feel very lucky and blessed to play with San Antonio, and I want to make sure they get to live those moments, because it's not every day that you can win the championship.
Q. Coach Popovich recounted a story that you guys shared a laugh on the stage out there about your first workout, and now here you are NBA MVP. What has Coach Popovich meant to you?
TONY PARKER: He meant everything. You know, he's just been unbelievable with me. When I first came, I did a workout and I was terrible, and Coach Pop said, I never want to see him again. And then I came back and I did better, and they finally drafted me. And after five games he puts me in the starting five. Just like that, it was just like growing pains. But it was just great because it made me better.
Pop always pushed me, even if I was lazy or nonchalant at practice, he always pushed me and pushed me. Today if I am The Finals MVP I can definitely give a lot of credit to Coach Pop because I would never be here without him.
Q. I'm curious, we've seen champions win, but even a champion, when faced with a run like that in the fourth quarter, would have folded up shop and said, let's get them next game. What is it about this team over the time you've been here that you never seem to lose your poise?
TONY PARKER: I think the experience. We're an old team. We've been there. We knew Cleveland was going to make a run, so we just let the storm go by and refocus, and we never had panic on our team, never. They went to 14-0 or something like that, and we never panicked. We were like, okay, they made their run and now we're going to finish it off. That's what's great about our team, we just play defense. And when you play defense it's going to give you an opportunity to win the game. Manu made shots and Timmy made shots and we were able to make some stops and win the game.
Q. What is the source of that calmness?
TONY PARKER: It starts with Pop, the fact that he never let us, you know, get comfortable. He's always behind us, always, like, come on, focus, focus, and I think it carries on. Every day in practice you just get that mentality. And then Timmy is the same way, he comes to practice and practices hard every day. When your superstar practices like that, you have to practice hard.
Q. You said yesterday that when they were looking at Jason Kidd, it kind of upset you, and you said something to them. Did you ever think in 2003, well, I'm going to show them, I'll win an MVP trophy and I'll win another championship?
TONY PARKER: I never thought about that. I told them I'm the right point guard for that team. I told Pop, I want to be the point guard on that team. I want to do it, and I'm going to work hard to become a great player. It made him mad at the time, but I think now he understands where I'm coming from because I've got a lot of confidence in myself, and I knew I could do it. I put a lot of work to arrive here.
Q. Can you talk about the significance of being the first European to win the MVP title?
TONY PARKER: It's great, it's great. It's just unbelievable. I'm speechless. When I look at that trophy, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and it's still going to be a dream. European basketball is improving every year. You've got Dirk Nowitzki the MVP for the first time and now the MVP Finals. There's going to be more. I'm on the list now.
Q. Along those same lines, you've got the flag over your shoulders. Did you pack that today, just the significance of wearing it?
TONY PARKER: No, I've worn it every time we won it. After the third time I wear it. It's just to show some love to my country. I don't forget about them. I know a lot of people wake up at 3 in the morning to watch me play. I'll be ready this summer to play with the national team.
Q. You won The Finals, you won the MVP of the Finals, you're about to get married to the woman you love. Is there anything else in this world you want that you don't have?
TONY PARKER: I'm not complaining. I will definitely remember 2007. It's a great year, and I'm going to thank God, go to church when I come back to San Antonio. I've been very blessed, very blessed. I don't know what I did, but it's a great year.
Q. Who's more popular now in France, you or Zidane?
TONY PARKER: That's a great question. You should put me on the same list, too. Zidane is always going to be the man in France because soccer is so popular, but hopefully French people can realize what I just accomplished, three championships in five years, that's not bad.
Q. Just curious, which is better, this ring or the one Eva is going to give you next month?
TONY PARKER: Both, both. Can't choose, both. Both are very good.
Q. Can you share with us what Tim Duncan said to you after you got the trophy?
TONY PARKER: He told me he was so proud of me. He was very happy for me, and he just told me that I played unbelievable. Like I said before, I feel very privileged to play with him because he's a superstar, very unselfish, and gave me the opportunity to play my best basketball at the right moment. I'm just happy.