Tony Parker: The Final Shot Review
It’s not nearly as ambitious as last year’s The Last Dance, but Tony Parker: The Final Shot, the new documentary about recently retired NBA star Tony Parker, is structured somewhat similarly. Except it does so in 90 minutes, rather than ten hours.
The Florent Bodin-directed film, which debuts this week on Netflix, cuts back and forth between Parker’s final year in the NBA, and important stories from throughout his career, including both multiple NBA championships and triumphs in international competition. The difference, though, is that Parker’s final season, an injury-marred campaign with the Charlotte Hornets, wasn’t especially eventful, nor did it result in any iconic basketball moments as the ’98 Bulls did.
The film was a French production, one about the man who was probably the best French basketball player ever, Parker came to the NBA in 2001, and played the first 17 seasons of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. The team won four NBA championships, across multiple eras, and Parker seems a lock for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The film includes interviews with Parker, his ex-teammates and opponents, a few journalists, and another elite French athlete, soccer’s Thierry Henry. There’s also plenty of NBA game footage, even though this isn’t an official NBA Entertainment production.
In addition to dealing with the many ways the game of basketball changed over the course of Parker’s nearly two-decade career, the film also really hammers home how unique a situation Parker was in spending most of his career in San Antonio. Like a lot of NBA cities, it’s a relatively small market, without any other local professional teams, operating mostly outside the spotlight.
“There’s not a whole lot to do but concentrate on basketball,” basketball writer Marc Spears says at one point, which is something I’ve heard said about a lot of different non-New York, Los Angeles, and Miami NBA cities over the years.
Tony Parker: The Final Shot is a fine examination of an underappreciated great.
The Spurs, in addition to their small-market status, won a bunch of championships, but they weren’t ever consecutive, meaning they weren’t quite thought of as a dynasty the way the Bulls and Lakers once did. And as the film points out, the other superstars on the Spurs were David Robinson and Tim Duncan, both of whom were often denounced as boring, while Parker was certainly more colorful. This may be why Robinson and Duncan ended up eschewing greener pastures to stay in San Antonio for their entire careers – most of them under a single coach, Gregg Popovich – while Parker stayed until his final year.
Parker’s marriage to Eva Longoria is dealt with very briefly, and the controversial circumstances of their split are not mentioned at all. However, Parker’s current wife is featured and has some memorable thoughts on what it’s like to be a non-celebrity whose husband’s previous wife was a famous actress. After all, you could have watched all ten hours of The Last Dance and had no idea that Jordan was married for the entirety of his time with the Bulls.
The film also spends some time on Parker’s off-the-court pursuits, including his ownership of a French basketball team, as well as his business ventures, although the work he does in China doesn’t probe especially deeply, or explore any of the oft-controversial aspects of the NBA’s ties with that country.
Also, as in The Last Dance, Kobe Bryant appears briefly as a talking head, and the film is dedicated to his memory.
Tony Parker: The Final Shot isn’t any type of groundbreaking examination of the game of basketball, and it’s likely going to have a fraction of the cultural footprint of The Last Dance. But Tony Parker: The Final Shot is a fine examination of an underappreciated great.
- Stephen Silver