#SLAMTop50: Tony Parker, no. 13

The definitive ranking of the NBA's best players for 2014-15.
by October 11, 2014
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Don’t Sweat The Technique.

Eric B & Rakim’s discography is indisputably iconic for hip-hop purists, especially “I Know You Got Soul” and “Paid in Full“, which ranked No. 23 and No. 10, respectively on Rolling Stone’s The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time list.

Lyrical connoisseurs also clamor for the dexterous wordplay shown on Follow The Leader’s “Microphone Fiend” and “Lyrics of Fury”.

But it’s his fourth album, Don’t Sweat The Technique—his swan song with longtime partner Eric B—that truly defined his lyrical prowess. He was the lone conceptualist rap pioneer who’d taken rapping about rapping to a towering crescendo and turned emceeing into an art form.

He was Pablo Picasso and an apex predator fused into one artist; an alchemist, deadly with a microphone in his hand.

So, too, is Tony Parker; a virtuoso with the rock, who murders defenders’ ankles at will with his breakneck speed and étonnant repertoire of audacious and improvisational moves that amaze and defy the laws of physics with visceral flair.

Rakim Allah is the hip-hop Tony Parker. And vice versa.

As he enters his 14th season in the National Basketball Association, TP sticks the landing at No. 13 on this year’s Top 50 list.

“I’m calm but deadly, heat up but cool/I’m rough as a right hook but still look smooth/Even when I’m unseen, I show and prove” – “Relax With Pep

Four NBA titles, a 2007 NBA Finals MVP, six All-Star selections and three All-NBA Second-Team nods and the fleet-of-foot Frenchman is still not getting his just due.

I mean, dude’s gotta be in the top 10, right?

TP’s name is rarely mentioned when talking heads spark up “Best Point Guards in the League” conversations and yet, when it’s winning time, he’s right there, dropping floaters in the lane, putting defenders in the spin cycle on the way to the cup and nailing go-ahead jumpers that propel his team—yes, his team—deep into the Playoffs.

Not the first round, not the second round, we talkin’ deep, Son.

“They wanna know how many rhymes have I ripped and wrecked/But researchers never found all the pieces yet/Scientists try to solve the context/Philosophers are wondering what’s next/Pieces are took to labs who observe them/They couldn’t absorb them, they didn’t deserve them/My ideas are only for the audience’s ears/For my opponents, it might take years” – “Don’t Sweat The Technique”

Last year was the first time since his rookie campaign that TP logged less than 30 minutes per contest. Coach Gregg Popovich, in his infinite “Eff you, NBA!” wisdom, rested his best players as much as possible through the tumultuous NBA season so they’d have plenty of gas left in the tank to get back to the NBA Finals. After the devastating loss to the Miami Heat the year prior, they were on a mission like Skyfall‘s 007 for a shot at redemption, to erase those gut-wrenching losses in Games 6 and 7, to make things right again.

Remember how that turned out?

Timmy showed some hubris and guaranteed the win and the Spurs proceeded to put on a friggin’ clinic against the Heatles in the Finals, playing the kind of exquisite team basketball not seen in the iso-ball heavy modern era. They were in tune on the court like the New York Philharmonic, each crisp pass floating from player to player with the poetic reverie of Bach’s sacred chords in “Mass In B Minor” or, in this case, like a transcendent verse from The R.

Timmy turned back the clock, Manu was back to being that combustible bottle of juke and boom! we’ve all loved over the years, and Kawhi emerged as the Finals MVP and put the L on notice that he got NEXT. Everybody, from Danny Green to Patty Mills to Boris Diaw, had a hand in securing the Larry O’Brien. But none of it would’ve been possible without TP the Point Gawd.

TP put up 16.7 points, 5.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds per last season (17.4 ppg in the postseason). Not otherworldly, but, like The God MC circa 1992, indestructibly consistent with the ability to hit ‘em with a bravura performance when Coach Pop calls his number. Case in point: that time he dropped 33 and 9 on Portland’s noggin in a blowout second-round win.

“Check the Richter Scale, rhymes overload/Blow up and explode abrupt and reload the code/You can’t pinpoint or locate the rate/Or evaluate the up-to-date state/Up front, laid back, coming off on track/Girls want some of this, because I’m all that” – “Relax With Pep”

As TP, Timmy, Ginobili, Kawhi and the rest of the Spurs gear up to defend the title, the landscape has changed. Their biggest foe, LeBron James, made a beeline back to Cleveland, where he’s orchestrated yet another Big Three. Point guards like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook will get all the press and voter love come February, but don’t sleep on TP. At 32, he’s still an elite floor general and thanks to his contract extension—which is worth $43.3 milli over three years—he’ll still be getting it done for years to come in the black and silver.

But it’s cool, don’t give him any props, he doesn’t need your spotlight to thrive and rack up Ws. Just don’t sweat the technique when June rolls around.

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#SLAMTop50 Players 2014
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Chandler Parsons Mavs SF 6
49 Deron Williams Nets PG 15
48 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 9
47 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 14
46 Rudy Gay Kings SF 5
45 Joe Johnson Nets SG 8
44 Kenneth Faried Nuggets PF 11
43 DeAndre Jordan Clippers C 9
42 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 13
41 Pau Gasol Bulls PF 10
40 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 12
39 Paul Millsap Hawks PF 9
38 Lance Stephenson Hornets SG 7
37 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 8
36 Al Horford Hawks C 8
35 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 6
34 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 11
33 Andre Drummond Pistons C 7
32 Dwyane Wade Heat SG 5
31 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 7
30 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 4
29 Klay Thompson Warriors SG 3
28 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 6
27 Goran Dragic Suns PG 10
26 Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 9
25 Al Jefferson Hornets C 6
24 Chris Bosh Heat C 5
23 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 4
22 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 4
21 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 5
20 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 3
19 Kobe Bryant Lakers SG 2
18 John Wall Wizards PG 8
17 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 7
16 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 6
15 Dwight Howard Rockets C 2
14 Joakim Noah Bulls C 1
13 Tony Parker Spurs PG 5

 
Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’14-15—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.