Worth the wait: Anthony Parker returns to NBA
Anthony Parker '97 returned to the NBA this season after six years in Europe. The former Bradley star helped the Toronto Raptors to a spot in the playoffs and was named the Atlantic Division winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award. He received a $10,000 donation to the Toronto Raptors Foundation in his name by the National Basketball Association.
Bradley Hilltopics: What do you miss the most about being overseas?
Anthony Parker: Tel Aviv was a great city and a great place to play. It’s almost like a second college, because I was there for five years and you develop relationships off the court. My team was great. We had a lot of fun. We were a close team by any standards, let alone a professional team. It was like a college atmosphere.
BH: What do you miss the least about being overseas?
AP: Basketball-wise, traveling. Israel was far from most of the places we played. It was usually a two-hour flight. The hotels were definitely not up to NBA standards, but for the most part it was all right. It was a good experience.
BH: Was there a down time, or a time you felt you would not get back to the NBA?
AP: After my first year over there (in Israel), the NBA wasn’t a priority. I wanted to be in the best situation and take advantage of the best opportunity for me and my family. (He and his wife lived in Israel his first season, and had two children during their time overseas). This window for me as a basketball player is kind of small. I had already been in the NBA. It wasn’t a situation where I was willing to sacrifice; it was a good life in Israel.
BH: Have you been back to Bradley since returning to the NBA?
AP: I go back to the Naperville and Chicago area. I haven’t been back to Bradley because I was overseas. We have a home in (Tampa) Florida now. Hopefully this summer we will get back to Bradley.
BH: What would you tell American players about playing overseas?
AP: I just hope people realize, like I did, there is great competition over there. It’s a good league, a good life, and good money. If you get back to the NBA, great. You have a window of opportunity (to play pro ball). You have to take advantage of it. You definitely have to do your research and be sure you get the best situation over there. It’s a great opportunity … but the NBA is certainly the number one league in the world.
BH: Why do you wear No. 18 with the Raptors?
AP: In the Jewish faith, that number symbolizes good fortune and life. It was a way for me to take away the best basketball memories I have in Israel, and just to say thanks to the fans – a symbol of what we accomplished with Maccabi.
BH: Who are some notable North Americans that you played with or against overseas?
AP: Marcus Brown (Murray State), Marcus Goree (West Virginia), Scoonie Penn (Ohio State). You always wonder where those players are now. They are over there playing at a high level and making good money in the process.
BH: Have you seen friends on various NBA road trips?
AP: It has been great coming back and spending a lot of time with them. There are so many blessings being back.
BH: Did you have concerns with security in Israel?
AP: You know, you are always concerned. You always are careful. We were scared at the beginning. We were asking questions. At the end, my wife and I were talking to the Americans, telling them it was OK. I think you develop a thick skin, but you are careful.