The San Antonio Spurs duo of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have come a long way, winning three NBA titles together and countless regular season games. The beginning of their partnership, however, was very muted. Literally. Per ESPN:

“He didn’t talk to me for a whole year,” Parker said after practice Monday, reflecting on his rookie season in 2001-02 when it wasn’t just a French-English language barrier that wedged a gap between the two. “It was kind of weird coming from France and you have your superstar player that doesn’t talk to you as a point guard, it’s kind of tough, you know? Because you’re supposed to talk to everybody.

“But as we grew together in the league and he trusted me more, I can really say it’s a special relationship because I feel close to him on the court. But even off the court, we’ve both been through a lot of stuff throughout our career so I think it got us closer.”

Parker said that he finally felt comfortable voicing his opinion to Duncan following their first championship together in 2003 and still fondly remembers the first conversation they had.

“I was very happy,” Parker said. “I remember I was very happy that he finally talked to me. I was like, ‘Maybe I can stay in this team.’ Because if Timmy doesn’t talk to you, it would be tough to stay with the Spurs. Because he’s the franchise. It would be tough.”

Of course, Parker has become just as vital to the Spurs’ organization over the years, winning Finals MVP in 2007 while finishing in the top 10 in the voting for league MVP four times.

“I think you had to earn his respect, I guess,” Parker said. “That’s fair, when you’re 19. That’s how I felt, that I had to earn the respect of my teammates and my coaches. Especially Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich). For the first 3-4 years, it was like war with him.”