| 34-year-old Anthony Parker provides Jamesian versatility.|
|David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images|
|10 Times that Shaquille O'Neal has led the NBA in field goal percentage; he broke Wilt Chamberlain's record in 2008-09, when he shot 60.9%. Shaq's career mark (58.2%) is second to Artis Gilmore's (59.9%). |
|Record: 66-16 (first in Central) |
Points scored: 100.3 (13th in NBA)
Points allowed: 91.4 (first in NBA)
This article appears in the October 26, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated
Maccabi Tel Aviv used to ask Anthony Parker to do everything -- score, rebound, defend, create for others. He was essentially the LeBron James of the Euroleague years before James became known for his comprehensive contributions in the NBA. "I was given an opportunity to show what I can do," says the 6' 6" Parker, who left Israel in 2006 to sign with the Raptors. "I'm just fortunate a lot of [NBA] teams observed that."
After four years at Bradley, Parker rarely played during his first three pro seasons with the 76ers and the Magic, prompting his move overseas. Now his versatility is valued so highly that a title contender is counting on him to fill several needs. Coming off their upset loss to the Magic in the conference finals, the Cavaliers signed Parker, 34, to a two-year, $6 million deal. He'll provide length and shooting from both wing positions as well as filling in for point guard Mo Williams. Cleveland may also need Parker to go extra minutes should shooting guard Delonte West be sidelined for long; in addition to being treated for bipolar disorder, West is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 20 on two counts of weapons possession. "Anthony is the best guy we've had shooting the ball coming off screens since I've been here," says coach Mike Brown. "I haven't been around anybody like that except when I was in Indiana with Reggie Miller."
Miller, though, never had the pleasure of running the floor with James or shooting behind a Shaquille O'Neal screen. Will Parker be able to make those jumpers in the crunch of a late-round playoff game? While he developed a reputation as a big-time shooter in his three seasons in Toronto, he traces his cold-bloodedness back to his years with Maccabi, which he led to three Euroleague championships. "It gives you confidence that you've done this before in do-or-die situations," says Parker. "But this is on a different level." As he and LeBron know, there are all kinds of ways to help win a game. -- Ian Thomsen