Tony Parker helped the San Antonio Spurs become a perennial championship contender during his 17 seasons with the franchise. So when the French star told the team's front office he was ready to go in a different direction, he was met with disbelief.
"They really didn't take me seriously that I was going to leave," Parker said, according to ESPN's Michael C. Wright.
Parker signed with the Charlotte Hornets in July, pursuing an opportunity to continue receiving regular rotation minutes. That came after he was told his playing time could be sparse in San Antonio with the emergence of young guards Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.
"Pop just told me that I was going to be the third point guard, and I had to think really hard about if I was going to stay," Parker said. "So then I told him I'm not gonna stay. I think they really didn't believe I was gonna leave anyway. I think they thought I'd be like Manu (Ginobili) and just stay."
Ginobili announced his retirement following Parker's departure from the Spurs, marking the end of the franchise's long-tenured core (that included Tim Duncan, who retired in 2016).
"So I was like, if Manu's not coming back, and Timmy is not there anymore, it's not going to be the same," Parker said.
The 36-year-old is averaging 9.4 points and 3.8 assists in 18.6 minutes as a reserve behind All-Star guard Kemba Walker for the Hornets.