Tony Parker won four titles as the point guard for the San Antonio Spurs. But he almost lost his job after the first one.
Following San Antonio’s NBA championship in 2003, the franchise considered a big shakeup. The Hall of Fame point guard they’d just defeated in the Finals, New Jersey’s Jason Kidd, was a free agent that summer. And he almost signed with the Spurs, which would have moved Parker to shooting guard or out of town.
Kidd remembers that he initially said yes to the Spurs’ pitch, but changed his mind because he wanted to “keep things going” with the Nets. He’d led New Jersey to the Finals each of his first two years with the team, finishing a close second to Tim Duncan in the 2022 MVP vote.
J-Kidd averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals in the series, numbers that are more impressive when you consider how low-scoring the games were at the time. Only San Antonio cracked the 100-point barrier in the series, scoring 101 in their Game 1 win. The Nets won Game 4 by a score of 77-76 – for comparison’s sake, the Denver Nuggets cracked 77 points in the fourth quarter in each of the first four games of this year’s Finals.
Meanwhile, Parker struggled in the Finals, often getting pulled for backup Speedy Claxton in crunch time. Still, he made 43 percent of his three-pointers (on 14 attempts – it was a very different time) and averaged 14 points a game – not bad for a second-year player who had turned 21 years old two weeks before the series.
Ultimately, Kidd stayed in New Jersey and San Antonio used their cap space to sign Robert Horry away from the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as center Rasho Nesterovic, who supplanted Nazr Mohammed as the Spurs starter when they won the 2005 title.
The other Hall of Famer who Kidd’s decision helped was Manu Ginobili, who got to play alongside Parker as the team’s super-sixth man, rather than sharing time with him at the two. Perhaps neither one makes the Hall after playing in Kidd’s shadow.
The Spurs can’t be disappointed by winning only three titles with Parker. But for Kidd, who had to wait until 2011 to win the only championship of his career, passing up San Antonio still haunts him.