Tony Parker first came into the league when he was just 19 years old. He was chosen with the 28th overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs during the 2001 NBA Draft and he primarily played as a backup to then Spurs point guard Antonio Daniels. He would go on to become a starter for 77 games and posted some pretty respectable averages in his rookie season.
Another little known fact about Parker is that he is the 3rd French player to have played in the NBA after his fellow countrymen Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Jerome Moiso. Parker's combination of speed and agility helped him setup plays for his teammates, which allowed them to get better looks at the basket. As he continued to adapt to Greg Popovich's system and the NBA style of play, it became apparent that the young Frenchman had potential to be a future star.
His ability to hit open jumpers also made it easier for Tim Duncan and David Robinson to get more space on offense. He finished off his rookie campaign by leading the Spurs in both assists and steals, and he also became the first foreign-born point guard to be named into the All-Rookie 1st tTeam. The Spurs would make it to the playoffs that year, but were eliminated. However, Parker's performance during the post-season didn't go unnoticed.
By the following year, Parker had greatly improved his stats from the previous season and became the team's starting point guard playing in all 82 games of the regular season. His role as the floor general of the Spurs became more apparent as he led the team in assists 49 times during the year. He also won his first NBA championship during the 2003 NBA Finals against the Jason Kidd led New Jersey Nets.
But despite winning a ring with the Spurs, there were still doubts about Parker's future with the team as the Spurs were not able to acquire All-Star point guard Jason Kidd in a trade. Instead of moping and feeling sorry for himself, Parker wanted to prove to his coaches and teammates that he belonged with the Spurs, and so he worked harder than ever to improve his game.
Parker's game would continue to improve within the following seasons and he even won the Finals MVP award after the Spurs got their third NBA championship in 2007. Now as Tim Duncan nears the twilight of his career, there is no doubt that once Timmy decides to hang up his shoes, it will be Tony Parker who will become the Spurs' next leader.