Never underestimate the appeal of nostalgia. That's part of what led to Tony Parker leaving the only franchise he's ever known in San Antonio, to sign with a middling Eastern Conference team. While the Charlotte Hornets aren't exactly the bottom-feeders of their Bobcat past, they're a long way –– both literally and figuratively –– from the staid franchise where Parker became a future Hall of Famer.
The original thinking was that Parker, who signed for two years and $10 million with the Hornets, left San Antonio over the money. But in a recent interview he gave to French periodical, L'Expresso (which sounds like Boris Diaw is a partial owner), by way of News 4 in San Antonio, he revealed a lot more behind his decision-making.
For instance, he shoots down the notion he left San Antonio over the money:
The Spurs offered me the same thing (contractually) as Charlotte, but it was more about the role. It was not a question of money. And it's important that people know this, because there are a lot of people who were "angry" at the Spurs, thinking the franchise had not offered me anything. Yes, they offered me something similar, but I did not want to finish assistant coach. And that was the role they offered me, when I wanted to play.
So, San Antonio offered something comparable to what the Hornets had on the table, but Tony wasn't interested in playing mentor to Spurs PG Dejounte Murray. That's fair. He wanted to play while he still has the legs. Except, that's only partially the reason why he left the team where he won four rings for Charlotte, of all places, when there were probably real contenders in the market for a former Finals MVP who can still be a spark off the bench.
That's when you have to remember that Tony Parker is of an age––he turned 36 in May––where His Airness reigned supreme, "And when Michael Jordan called me, my idol, I thought, let's go," Parker told L'Expresso. "For me, I feel like closing the loop, to finish my career in his club, it's something special for me because it's him that made me want to play basketball."
Never underestimate the allure of childhood fandom; It never really leaves us, even as we grow older. When Parker was a sponge of impressions at 12 years old, Michael Jordan and the Dream Team were showing the world their dominance on the hardwood in Barcelona, Spain during the 1992 Olympics. That's not that far from Parker's native country of France.