He was a tactician with the basketball, consistently making the right reads to break down Miami's vaunted defense. His assist total (six) doesn't jump off of the box score, but it certainly takes on more appreciable meaning when coupled with the fact that he logged a team-high 39 minutes of turnover-free basketball.
He was an unstoppable scorer when his team needed him most. His point total (21) and field-goal percentage (50) both impressed, but they took a while to reach notable status. He had only 10 points over the first three quarters, then erupted for 11 in the fourth period capped off by his incredible shot clock-beating dagger in the closing seconds of San Antonio's 92-88 victory.
And he was even a throwback to basketball's early days of player-coaches.
Now a point guard is typically an extension of the coach, so perhaps it's no surprise that he has some natural leadership qualities. But his comfort in approaching his coach, Gregg Popovich, the longest-tenured head coach in the four major professional sports, with an idea and delivering it to his teammates, a group that includes future first-ballot Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, was perhaps his most awe-inspiring performance of the night:
Love seeing Tony Parker take over the timeout.Shows that Pop is a secure coach. Best nba teams are democracies.— Mark Montieth (@MarkMontieth) June 7, 2013
Credit Popovich for affording Parker the opportunity to speak his mind. And credit Parker's teammates for completely buying into what the point guard was selling them.
But credit Parker most of all for sharing the kind of hoops insight that stems from starting a professional basketball career at an age when most people are cramming for the SAT or sending out college applications.