Tony Parker Injury: Missing London Olympics Would Kill France's Medal Chances

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 04:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs wipes his face against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on June 4, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker's unfortunate involvement in a nightclub brawl between rappers Chris Brown and Drake as well as their respective entourages has been well-documented, but it now appears that Parker being in the wrong place at the wrong time could cost him an opportunity to compete in the London Olympics.

According to the Associated Press, Parker will soon see a specialist who will examine his injured eye, and if the injury is determined to be bad enough, then Parker will not be able to play for France in the Olympics next month.

Parker suffered a scratched cornea in the fight and nearly lost his eye, according to the report. In one respect, Parker is lucky that he wasn't injured worse than he was, but missing the Olympics would be devastating for him and his country. France was considered among the favorites to medal in London, but that would be a near impossibility without Parker in the fold.

France has failed to qualify for men's basketball in the past two Olympics, so Parker has never had the opportunity to participate. He is currently 30, which means that he will be 34 by the time the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro take place. Perhaps Parker will still be good enough to compete in the Olympics at that point, but if he misses this year, there is a very real chance that he will never make it.

As far as this year goes, though, there are very high expectations for France. Aside from the United States, France is perhaps the only team in the Olympics that can field a team comprised mostly of NBA players. Aside from Parker there promises to be some solid supporting players such as Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw, but Parker is the straw that stirs the drink and the player who orchestrates everything.

It would be an absolute shock if the United States doesn't win the gold, but France is a team, along with Spain and Argentina, that figured to have a very real chance at either a silver or bronze medal. Parker had one of the best seasons of his successful NBA career this year as he averaged over 18 points and nearly 18 assists per game, so he was obviously going to be the key component for France.

Being without Parker would be damaging for France from an on-court perspective as Rodrigue Beaubois would likely have to run the point, but it would also be demoralizing from a mental standpoint. France was going to enter the Olympics with a ton of swagger and confidence, but if Parker can't play, then I can't imagine that the French squad will have as much belief in itself.

Even if the United States goes on to win the gold medal as expected, it would have been nice to see them get pushed and challenged a bit. The "Redeem Team" essentially rolled through everyone in 2008 en route to the gold medal, although Spain did put up a fight in the final game. France looked to have a team that could give Team USA some nervous moments at the very least, but not so much if Parker is out.

The past couple weeks certainly haven't been great for Parker as his Spurs were eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals and then he got caught up in a bad situation and injured his eye. Missing the Olympics would make things that much worse, though. I'm sure Parker is desperate to compete for his country, but if his long-term health is at risk, then Parker may have to sit this one out, possibly putting Team France out of contention.


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