For the second time since this month’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics began, Stephen Jackson blasted former San Antonio Spurs teammate Tony Parker for “selfish” play during the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
After describing Parker as a “double agent” on ESPN’s TrueHoop podcast, Jackson doubled down on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “I was not the only guy seeing his selfish ways,” he said of their 2012 Western Conference finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I’m the only one who had balls to say it.”
Parker’s actions during a two-week stay in Rio that spanned Jackson’s comments speak louder than any words the four-time All-Star point guard could have offered in response to ol’ Captain Jack.
As Jackson ripped a player he shared the court with for less than a full season, Brazil’s O Globo news outlet published the heartwarming story of Parker’s response to Olympic basketball volunteer Vitor Galvani’s harrowing tale of being robbed at knifepoint on his way home from a Team France game.
As the story goes, while Galvani waited in a bus station outside Rio’s Olympic Park following France’s victory against Venezuela, a group of teens grabbed his cellphone, and when the volunteer gave chase, one of the robbers revealed a knife. The following day, when the French national team’s trainer noticed Galvani was shook up, the Brazilian shared his story. The trainer in turn told Team France.
Galvani, 23, majored in physical education and works as a club basketball coach in Joinville, Brazil. He made the 12-hour trip to Rio to he serve as a volunteer locker room attendant. To his good fortune, Galvani drew star-studded Team France, each of whose members approached him about the robbery. Parker was the last in line, and the four-time NBA champion offered to replace Galvani’s cell phone.
At first, the Brazilian declined, not wanting to distract from France’s quarterfinal matchup against Spain. But Parker insisted. Not only did the Spurs star provide Galvani with a new phone, he delivered a bag full of Olympic swag, including Beats By Dre headphones and Lacoste sunglasses. When Galvani joked he’d be robbed again, Parker arranged for a car and security to ensure he made it home safe.
“I wept like a child,” Galvani told O Globo, ” I hugged him — I could see the person he is.”
Parker wasn’t the only Frenchman enamored with Galvani. NBA veteran Boris Diaw called the Brazilian volunteer out of the blue, sharing Team France’s tradition of filling a box with fines for minor infractions like late arrivals, which the team then uses to pay for dinner at the end of the tournament.
Galvani wondered why Diaw was telling him this story, worrying perhaps he’d violated a team rule. That’s when the Utah Jazz forward told him, “But this time we decided to give it to you. You helped us in a way unimaginable, always willing.” The money was enough to pay for Galvani’s entire trip to Rio.
When France lost to Spain in the quarterfinals, ending their Olympic run, Galvani entered a locker room void of players but filled with uniforms and shoes. He figured Team France left their belongings in frustration following their 92-67 defeat, only to be told later they had left the items for him. When he told the French players he would bring the items to his players back home, former Spurs second-round pick Nando de Colo delivered a suitcase full of more uniforms and equipment for the kids.
Finally, Team France invited Galvani to their celebratory dinner to cap their run in Rio. Even after giving him the funds they’d reserved for the food, they treated him to as much steak and seafood as he could eat. “I think I’ve never eaten so much and so well in my life,” Galvani joked on Facebook.
“These Olympic athletes are much more than stars for their clubs and countries,” Galvani said on social media. “They have shown me that people can sympathize with the story of others and can recognize the goodwill of a job I was doing. I hope I can pass this on, mainly for the athletes I work with. I want to form not only great athletes, but also great people like the ones that I was able to be on the same side of in these Olympics.”
During the dinner, Galvani read a letter to Team France written by his father, Jose Claudio, which the Brazilian volunteer shared with O Globo and the Frenchmen called the highlight of their stay in Rio.
“As you know, my son was robbed, ran after the thieves, one of them had a knife and this story’s end could have had a tragic outcome,” Galvanis father wrote. “Vitor called us this night at 1 a.m. He was crying, very nervous and very sad about our country’s chronic security problem. However, the sequence of this event was very beautiful and positively surprised my family and me. We know you are sport superstars and it was admirable that you care and act to minimize my son’s sadness.”
So, the next time Stephen Jackson wants to call Parker “selfish,” particularly as it relates to a deciding Game 6 defeat in which the French point guard posted team highs of 29 points and 12 assists (a trio of which came on Jackson’s six 3-pointers), maybe he should pick a day Parker’s exceptional unselfishness isn’t broadcast to the world. Then again, we’ve seen Captain Jack contradict himself before. Only a couple weeks ago, he blasted today’s players for choosing money over winning, despite doing the same during his career. So, perhaps he was merely mistaken about Parker’s selfishness.
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