Parker Has Cavs World Wary

By Mike Wise
Monday, June 11, 2007

SAN ANTONIO The Desperate Point Guard was holding the hand of Eva Longoria as he walked down a small corridor here Sunday night. Trailing behind was actor Terrence Howard, because, really, what's a celebrity fiancee without a celebrity friend to tag along?

Two games in, the Glam Man of these NBA Finals is Tony Parker. He, not LeBron James, has scored 57 points in two games and put on an end-to-end show in leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 2-0 series lead. A 6-foot-and-change Parisian has dribbled through nooks and crannies in Cleveland's once-vaunted defense and made the Cavaliers smell like Pepé Le Pew.

With at least two games still remaining in this mismatch of a series, a cadre of French reporters surrounded the man they traveled abroad to see, afterward asking Parker if they thought he would be named MVP of the Finals.

"Oh, that will never happen," he said in French, through a mock smile. "Don't you know -- it will always go to Tim Duncan." That was Parker's way of saying he didn't care, that it wasn't about him, that he was part of much-more encompassing mind-set.

If it seems like LeBron and himself against the world after 48 minutes, it is. Tim Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Manu Ginobili of Argentina and Parker of France unleashed all of their offensive arsenal on this poor, undermanned team from Cleveland on Sunday night, ruining any chance of a competitive NBA Finals. In less than two clinical quarters, the Spurs emphatically drove home the notion that one stateside supernova will flicker out against a constellation of stars born outside the continental 48.

When the yelping and hollering were done here in Game 2, so were the Cavaliers and what they were about this season: LeBron, team defense and little else.

Don't disregard the fight Cleveland showed at the end. With the Cavs scheduled to host the next three games of the series, the pride and purpose they showed meant something. But you had to be in this building to experience the humiliation and hurt San Antonio put on the Cavs in the first half to go up 2-0 in the series.

Parker took off on one of these length-of-court forays that may be the most defining moment of this series, a breathtaking jaunt in which he went behind his back, used the Cavs as traffic cones and then hit an improvisational reverse layup that had the AT&T Center enraptured for maybe two minutes of screaming and applause.

LeBron came back to put on a bit of a show, but without a dunk in Game 1 and with an air-ball free throw in Game 2 this clearly isn't a stage for children. As one completely cynical journalist quipped tonight, "Just call him Le Done."

Clevelanders will flood the e-mail inboxes of their team's detractors on Monday, talking up their 0-2 comeback against Detroit, how the Cavs have shown so much flair and fire at home. They might even point to San Antonio being blown out in Games 3 and 4 of the 2005 Finals in Detroit before rallying to win the series in Game 7.

But this isn't the East, these aren't the Pistons and this isn't 2005. And if it's any consolation, no one coming out of the East was going to take any more than two games off San Antonio. Much will be made of whether Coach Mike Brown should have sat LeBron for the rest of the first quarter after he picked up two early fouls, whether the Cavs coach pulled the right strings.

Yes, he should have brought LeBron back earlier. Because by the time James scored again in the second quarter, his team was already down 19 points. But how much difference would it have really made? Duncan, Ginobili and Parker scored 28 of San Antonio's 30 second-quarter points -- 12 of the most flawless and pretty minutes of the 2007 season.

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