Fans greet Parker warmly in San Antonio return


SAN ANTONIO — Hornets coach James Borrego expected Charlotte point guard Tony Parker to look up to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for a playcall at some point Monday.

After all, it’s hard to blame 17 years of muscle memory.

“He’ll look over at Pop and say, ‘What do you want, Pop?,'” Borrego said. “You know that’s gonna happen. He’s probably gonna look to Pop for the playcall.”

Parker promised to avoid such a mistake just minutes before he took the court for the first time to face the Spurs, the team with which he spent the first 17 years of what is expected to be a Hall of Fame career before joining the Hornets in July as a free agent.

Parker took the court at the AT&T Center and joined Hornets owner Michael Jordan as one of just two players in NBA history to play against the team for which he captured at least four championships and an NBA Finals MVP. Parker had eight points, four assists and three rebounds in the Hornets’ 108-93 win.

In stark contrast to the way Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard was received when he returned to San Antonio to play his former team earlier in the month, the fans greeted Parker warmly, with a standing ovation that lasted nearly a minute after an approximately three-minute tribute video was played in Parker’s honor.

As Parker acknowledged the crowd with a wave, the fans broke out in a chant of, “To-ny, To-ny, To-ny.”

Many of Parker’s family members flew from France to San Antonio to surprise him for the occasion. Parker’s father, the elder Tony, was in attendance as well.

Parker was drafted as a 19-year-old out of France. He is averaging 9.4 points and 3.8 assists in 18.6 minutes per game this season.

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