Spurs' Parker Wants to Play in Worlds While Teammate Ginobili Soon to Decide
Tony Parker has fully recovered after recently sitting out about a month with a broken right hand. He's expecting to represent his native France for the Worlds, which run Aug. 28-Sept. 12.
"I want to play,'' Parker said after San Antonio's 104-85 win Saturday at Denver. "Of course, I want to play.''
As far as giving an official word to French officials, Parker said he won't do that until after the playoffs. But Parker's backcourt mate, Manu Ginobili, said he will alert Argentina officials before the postseason whether he will represent his homeland.
Ginoboli just signed a three-year, $39 million contract. That could end up being the final obstacle that would lead him to play.
"I've got to make my decision by next week,'' Ginobili said before the game. "I don't have to. But I want to out of respect for the coaching staff ... There's no more variables in that situation (due to his contract extension). I better make that decision now ... Just in case I don't play, they will have time to make adjustments. If I do play, I want them to be sure they know I'm going to be in it. It's good to give them some time.''
Ginobili wouldn't say whether or not he's leaning toward playing in the Worlds due to his contract extension having been finalized. But Ginobili did acknowledge it would be very tough not to play for Argentina, the 2004 Olympic gold medalists, because he said all the country's other top players have committed.
"Ah, yes,'' Ginobili said. "I love playing with them. It's more fun if everybody plays, of course ... We've made the semifinals the last four tournaments so that is something huge, and that we try to maintain.''
In addition to winning the 2004 Olympics, Argentina won silver at the 2002 World Championships, lost to Team USA in semifinals of the 2006 Worlds and took bronze at the 2008 Olympics.
At the last Olympics, Ginobili re-injured his left ankle, which needed surgery and kept him out for nearly the first month of last season. Still, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the decision is completely up to Ginobili whether to play in Turkey, and team officials won't sway him one way or another.
"It's totally his,'' Popovich said. "We have no power. We can say whatever we want. Players can do what they want. So that's the bottom line. So I don't waste my time ... he'll just tell me what he's going to do.''
Popovich said he's torn because he has great respect for international basketball but also doesn't want an injury to affect the Spurs.
"Sure, I am,'' Popovich said. "All of us our torn in that respect ... but I understand it. I loved (international basketball) when I was playing in the military and traveling around the world and playing in different tournaments. When you get to play for your country, it's a pretty exciting thing. But sure it makes it nervous. I don't want him to get hurt. But the way the rules are he can do whatever he wants.''
But why will Parker wait until after the playoffs to make his decision final while Ginobili said he will do so before the postseason?
"He does whatever he wants,'' said Parker, echoing what Popovich said about Ginobili.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson