Parker redux

Tony Parker said a 2001 pre-draft workout with a then Spurs staffer, Lance Blanks, had a lasting effect. Parker told the Express-News’ Jeff McDonald in Sunday’s editions that, when he arrived for his first training camp months later, he’d been humbled.

“I thought if I could play like 15, 20 minutes and be a good player in the NBA, I’d be happy,” Parker said.

Blanks, now the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, remembers it differently.

Maybe neither, in 2001, could have ever imagined Parker would play in four NBA All-Star Games. Players drafted low in the first round are lucky to last four seasons; players who worked out as Parker did were lucky to last four games.

Blanks had starred at Texas, and he’d been a first-round draft pick himself in 1990. But he hadn’t competed seriously in almost three years and was out of shape. Given that, he played Parker the only way he could, and the way the Spurs wanted him to, by holding and banging.

“I was accused of trying to get another contract as a player,” Blanks joked a few years ago, and the Spurs said there is a reason they accused him of that. Blanks looked like he was trying to get another contract.

Parker must have been in shock. He had just arrived from France the day before, as McDonald wrote, and he had no idea what a private workout might involve. Then Blanks, nearly twice his age, mauled Parker with his agent and father looking on.

“It went from bad to worse,” said Blanks, “with every push.”

But when it was over — with Gregg Popovich convinced Parker would be a mistake — Blanks said Parker was unaware how awful he had looked.

What Parker told Blanks that day: “I’m going to start in this league.”

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