Fans greet Parker warmly in San Antonio return

The crowd greets Tony Parker with “To-ny!” chants upon his return to AT&T Center in a Hornets uniform. (1:01)

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

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.”

Tony Parker never really wanted to leave the Spurs, and the franchise never thought he would. So how in the world did he end up on the Hornets?

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.

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 here greeted Parker warmly with a standing ovation that lasted nearly a minute after an approximately 3-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 from France flew into 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.