Tony Parker
Photo: AP

French star Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs are returning to the National Basketball Association Finals for the first time since they last lifted the trophy in 2007. Led by Parker, the Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies in four consecutive games to reach the championship round.

The 31-year-old Parker was outstanding against the Grizzlies, averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 assists in the four victories. He capped it in Game

Tony Parker puts up a shot against the Grizzlies
Photo: AP

Four in Memphis with his best performance of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, making 15 of 21 shots from the field, all six at the free throw line and scoring 37 points in San Antonio’s 93-86 victory.

“He’s been amazing,” said San Antonio’s veteran star Tim Duncan. “Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us.”

The 37-year-old Duncan, winding down a Hall of Fame career, has also been a solid contributor to San Antonio’s postseason success, averaging 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds a game during the playoffs.

Tony Parker drives to the basket
Photo: AP

“Last year, I promised to him (Tim Duncan) that we will go back to the NBA Finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing,” says Parker. “I’m trying to do my best … we don’t know who we’re going to play yet, but we know it’s going to be tough.”

The Spurs will play the winner of the series between the Indiana Pacers and the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

The NBA Finals will tip off June 6, and Parker says the Spurs will enjoy the time off before the championship round. “It’s going to be great to rest. I know Timmy (Duncan) and Manu (Ginobili) are going to love the rest,” says Parker. “We’re going to regenerate and get ready for whoever we’re going to play.”

Parker, Duncan and Ginobili have been the key players in San Antonio’s NBA success, which has spanned more than a decade. Duncan is a four-time NBA champion, while Parker and Ginobili have won three NBA titles.

“It just shows the character of those three guys and their ability to play with whoever else is brought in around them,” says Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “They deserve a lot of credit for that.”