If you have followed the basketball world in the 21st century, you know Tony Parker’s name. You know he’s a great player that became a central figure in the San Antonio Spurs dynasty that lasted the better part of a decade. Parker slowly but surely became one of the best French basketball players of all time, becoming a household product, a Finals MVP, and a 4-time NBA Champion. Netflix’s new documentary, Tony Parker: The Final Shot, doesn’t change any of that, nor does it investigate more disputed aspects of the star’s personal life.
Instead, the film, directed by Florent Bodin, gives Parker an opportunity to show how loved he is in France, and how hard he fought for his long career. The majority of professional athletes have setbacks, struggles, and adversity throughout their careers and their lives. Early on, it’s understood that this documentary is a celebration, not an examination, of Parker.
Bodin’s film derives values from its various subjects, though, especially with extended footage of the late, great Kobe Bryant talking about his rivalry with Parker and the Spurs organization. Watching Bryant speak about these years and these Finals matchups is another opportunity to understand his own greatness on the court, showing the French point guard’s skills in relation to one of basketball’s best. Michael Jordan even pops up, first as Parker’s hero, and then as the owner of the team he’s playing for, an odd but fitting final segment to his time in the NBA.
Others wrangled into Tony Parker: The Final Shot include Spurs’ greats like David Robinson and Manu Ginóbili, coach Gregg Popovich, and those that have impacted Parker over the years, like his parents, his youth coaches, and several of his teammates. But the documentary never skirts past the general premise of, “Tony Parker is great.” It’s a love letter with little repercussions, even less insight, and lacking the personal moments that these types of celebrity-films can often conjure up.
Primarily in French with bits of English, Tony Parker: The Final Shot follows a classic narrative structure for the sports-doc, travelling from his childhood as “the best player on the court,” as they always are, to his time as a youth star in France. It goes through the majority of his time with the Spurs, his torn quadriceps injury, his final season with the Charlotte Hornets, and his international career. Throughout, it’s easy to see Parker’s talent, but mid-range jumpers and floaters don’t make for great television. There’s a reason that the Spurs weren’t as beloved as other dynasties. They stuck to the fundamentals, much like this depiction of one of their 21st-century champions.
A much more insightful doc would look at Parker’s extramarital affairs and his crumbly divorce from Eva Longoria. Parker existed in a much more public space than his teammates, as attending film and TV premieres became a regular occurrence. More than any other sport, basketball has become intertwined with Hollywood, with an influx of relationships putting the two side-by-side. Allegations arose that Parker slept with Brent Barry’s, a former teammate, wife. How does a professional athlete deal with personal matters during the height of his career? That answer remains more interesting than the party that was thrown in Parker’s honour following his retirement.
Tony Parker: The Final Shot is now streaming on Netflix.
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