One-half of the 2013 NBA Finals has been set, as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies by a score of 93-86 Monday night to complete the series sweep. At the heart of the victory was point guard Tony Parker, who dominated from start to finish.
With the victory, Parker affirms his status as the NBA's best postseason point guard—and it's not even close.
Parker finished Game 4 with 37 points, six assists and four rebounds, shooting 15-of-21 from the floor. He made his only three-pointer and converted all six of his free-throw attempts, completing what was as close to a perfect performance as you could ask for.
According to Basketball-Reference, this marks the first time since 2009 that a point guard topped 35 points on 70 percent shooting during a postseason game—and Parker was the one who did it then too.
Tony Parker (37pts) hit 15-of-21 FGAs (71.4%), just an absolute clinic tonight. Shot chart twitter.com/nbastats/statu…— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 28, 2013
That's what you call efficiency—either that or dominance. We might as well just pair them and create a new adjective.
Tonight, Parker went "Tony Parker."
There are point guards with better statistics, more All-Star appearances and a wider variety of individual awards. You can find players with more commercials, higher jersey sales and more recognizable names.
With all of that being said, no point guard has been as strong as Tony Parker when the games actually count.
Parker is a three-time NBA champion with the 2007 NBA Finals MVP award to his name. He's scored 3,195 career postseason points, dished out 878 assists, grabbed 539 rebounds and shot 46.2 percent during the playoffs.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Parker is one of eight players in NBA history to tally at least 3,000 points, 800 assists, 500 rebounds and 150 steals during his postseason career.
Joining Parker are Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dennis Johnson, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Each of those players is either currently in the Hall of Fame or a pure lock for that distinction.
Notice that no other active point guards are on that list.
In fact, no other active point guard has career postseason numbers of at least 3,000 points and 800 assists. Only four other active point guards have eclipsed the 800-assist mark, with Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo achieving such.
The difference between Parker and the rest of those decorated point guards? He owns three championship rings.
Breaking the Mold
Since Isiah Thomas led the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons to the NBA championship in 1990, only two point guards have won the NBA Finals MVP. Those two players were Chauncey Billups in 2004 and Tony Parker in 2007.
This simply proves the notion that has become widespread in the NBA—a legitimate title contender cannot have a point guard as its best player.
You could make the case that Tim Duncan was San Antonio's best player in 2007, but that's a subjective approach. When it comes to which player led the Spurs to the title in '07, however, it was not a matter of opinion.
Parker stepped up time and time again, thus resulting in his 2007 NBA Finals MVP award.
In 2013, Parker is elevating his reputation to an entirely new level. He's led the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA Finals. Tim Duncan's rejuvenation is worth noting, as the 37-year-old was the most productive big man in the NBA during the 2012-13 regular season.
If you go to the source, however, Duncan's success can be accredited to someone else.
"Every year he just gets better and better and better. I told him I'm just riding his coattails." - Tim Duncan on Tony Parker.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 28, 2013
Duncan may be humble, but he's never been one to blow steam for false reasons.
Is He the Best PG in the NBA? Twitter Weighs In
The label of the best point guard in the NBA is often bestowed upon Chris Paul. After all, Paul is the most statistically decorated point guard in the NBA, leading the league in assists twice and steals five separate times.
When we go beyond the basic statistics, however, we can't help but ask: Is Paul really the superior player?
Well, let's ask the last breed of the title-leading point guard, Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas.
You don't have a player more fit to make that claim than Thomas—a two-time NBA champion.
Parker may not garner the headlines of Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo, nor is he a fan favorite like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook. However, Parker is the best postseason point guard in the NBA.
There's a strong possibility that we should eliminate the word "postseason" from that phrase.
Tony Parker is the best point guard in basketball. Period.— Fran Blinebury (@franblinebury) May 28, 2013
It's becoming more and more difficult to debate that belief.
Parker doesn't have the reputation of CP3, which makes the average fan hesitant to label him as the best. He doesn't post the greatest nightly statistics, which has fantasy basketball purists questioning his validity.
When it comes to his full body of work, however, one thing is clear: Parker is one of the best to ever do it.
It really is high time Tony Parker gets his due for being one of the best point guards in #NBA history. Which he most definitely is.— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) May 28, 2013
As you're busy debating, Parker is counting rings and preparing to compete for a fourth one.
Parker will never receive the admiration of fans and may not have the statistics for the number-crunchers to label him a legend. The fact of the matter is, every time a viewer claims he's not elite, current or former players are quick to jump in.
Whose authority do we actually trust?
Paul has every right to be labeled the best point guard in the NBA, while Parker is the best system-runner in the league. However, when it comes down to doing what matters most—winning games—the discussion ends.
Parker is the best postseason point guard of our generation, and it's not even a close comparison.