Anthony Parker a great addition to Raptors
North of the Border, East Meets West
Itís ironic when an NBA team signs an American for a dose of European style basketball but thatís just what the Toronto Raptors did in signing Anthony Parker.
Parker joins Benetton Trevisoís, Andrea Bargnani and Slovenian center Rasho Nesterovic among the Raptorsí new additions since Bryan Colangelo signed as GM and brought along Maurizio Gherardini, Bargnaniís GM at Benetton, as his assistant.
Colangelo, itís believed, will try to emulate the free-wheeling, open court style of play that coach Mike DíAntoni brought over from Italy successfully applied to the Phoenix Suns. He will be aided by his assistant Gherardini, who has a ton of international ezperience and wide contacts throughout the entire basketball world.
Although the 6'6", 31-year-old Parker had a heralded college career and spent two years in the NBA, his basketball career really took off after going overseas. Over five seasons, Parker led Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel to three Euroleague Championships and during the past two seasons has been considered by many to be the best player outside of the NBA.
Once considered a sure-fire lottery pick, Parkerís reputation suffered from a drop-off in production during his senior year at Bradley, which was followed by injury-plagued campaigns with New Jersey and Orlando. In 2000, Parker moved his game across the Atlantic and Maccabi hit a European teamís equivalent of a jackpot by signing a player with NBA quality talent who had fallen through the cracks.
According to former Maccabi coach David Blatt, who recruited Parker in 2000, "We brought Anthony to Tel Aviv knowing that he was talented enough to be an NBA rotation level player."
Parkerís versatility and athleticism were a perfect match for Maccabi while his character, leadership and consummate professionalism quickly made him the body and soul of his new team and a fan favorite. The addition of Parker upgraded Maccabi from one of the powerhouses of European basketball to a mini-dynasty who reached the Euroleague Final Four each of his seasons in Israel.
Parker should be backing up second guard Morris Peterson in the Raptorsí rotation. According to Blatt, his transition back to the NBA will depend on the type of offense that the Raptors use. ďIf the Raptors play the open-court basketball with a lot of ball movement, that Anthonyís accustomed, heíll do just fineĒ says Blatt.