San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker’s game is built on court vision. So when Parker suffered an eye injury (a scratched cornea, ouch!) while partying with friends in 2012, his court vision was less than perfect as he prepared to play for the French National Team in the London Olympics.
That’s when Bollé, an eyewear company that Parker had previously worked with, stepped in with special glasses for the four-time NBA champion. Now, Parker, whose vision is back to 100 percent, is helping the company launch a kids line, Bollé Sport Protective. The glasses (available with prescription or non-prescription lenses) come in cool colors and names like Swag, Dominance, and Baller.
Before his Spurs took on the Brooklyn Nets in New York last Wednesday, Parker sat down with SI Kids to talk about his experience with the eyewear, his hot start from beyond arc, and if he’ll ever come out of his rap retirement.
What was the process like trying to find the right glasses to wear as you healed from your eye injury?
I was hesitant to wear them. But I had no choice. At first, I tried different glasses. With some of them, the lenses would fog and that disrupts the way I play. Some would move around too much for me. I found a great pair and we used those glasses to create this line. You don’t even feel them when you wear them.
Finding the right pair is important. Did any players contact you about the glasses after they saw you rocking them?
Amar’e Stoudemire reached out to me and asked me about them. His eye injury [a partially torn iris in 2009] was worse than mine. He continues to wear protective goggles. I told him how great I felt with my glasses.
You no longer have the eye injury, but you are suffering from bruised ribs and couldn’t suit up for the Philadelphia 76ers game. When you’re sidelined, are you more of a coach or cheerleader for your teammates?
I’m more of a coach. [Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich] asks me to talk to the guys and make sure my backup Cory Joseph is ready. I’ll share what I see from the sidelines with them. I’ll watch the other team’s defense and will tell Cory and the guys what plays to consider.
Do you give your teammates any advice on their shooting when you’re a sideline coach?
Not really. Most of them are better shooters than me!
Right now your stats tell a different story. You lead your team in field goal percentage (51.1 percent) and three-point percentage (65.4 percent).
Well, right now I do have the best percentage on the team. I’m doing really well. I got a good start.
Oh, and you set the NBA record for highest three-point percentage through 15 games (66.7 percent).
If you told I’d make history like that, I wouldn’t believe you.
What’s sparking your hot shooting?
I don’t know. I’ve always worked on my three-point shot. I guess it’s a hot start. My teammates are finding me and I’m shooting with a lot of confidence. As I get older, I’m not going to be as fast as I was before. Driving to basket for me will be different. So, I have to find other ways to get a shot off and my three is really good this season.
What’s the key to defending the Spurs’ championship?
Staying healthy. If we’re healthy and start the playoffs strong, I like our chances of getting another title.
Emerging from the Western Conference is never an easy task. Which team in the west do you think will be the most difficult to beat?
I think OKC is still going to be a tough team to beat. They are very young, athletic, and have great inside presence to stop Timmy. Going against Russell Westbrook is always a great challenge. It’s so much fun. He has so much energy. I’m still quick, but it can be tough as you get older, going up against guy like him. He’s super fast!
Outside of basketball, you’ve dabbled in a rap career in the past. You’re a retired rapper now, but do you still freestyle in French in the locker room?
When I was 20, yes. Now, no way!
So there’s no chance of you coming out of rap retirement when your basketball career is over?
I’d be too old! But I guess I can’t say that because Jay Z is still rapping. He’s unbelievable. He’s got longevity. Rapping was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. So maybe I won’t close the door all of the way. We’ll see.
You can find more information about Bollé Sport Protective eyewear on the company's website.
Photos: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo (Lakers), John Biever/Sports Illustrated (Olympics), Bollé (glasses)