Parker and Nunn On The Same Page

08 September 2011

By Paul Nilsen

Ronnie Nunn and Tony Parker
Ronnie Nunn and Tony Parker coincide that communication between players and referees is important and they demonstrated it during their friendly chat in Vilnius

French star Tony Parker caught up with an old friend in Vilnius when he came face to face once again with NBA refereeing guru Ronnie Nunn.

Within seconds of meeting, the pair became locked in deep conversation and it didn't take long for Parker to give Nunn a glowing report about the current crop of EuroBasket 2011 game officials.

"I think the biggest thing I am happy with this year is the way that we can talk to the referees," explained the San Antonio Spurs point guard.

"Obviously this is all about showing them a lot of respect and making sure you don't scream. It has to be a two-way conversation if you want to be able to learn and talk about things with them.

"In the NBA, we get to see the referees every few days so you have more of an opportunity to develop a relationship - something which is of course more difficult with the National Team as you might not see referees for one or maybe even two years.

"If you approach referees in the right and proper way, you should always be able to have a conversation and I really like that."

Parker continued: "Basketball is a game of emotion and communication between players and referees is hugely important.

"Inevitably you will sometimes react to calls while on the court but you still have to try and show a lot of respect to the referees in those type of situations. As players we have to accept it won't change the call but it helps if you can maybe try to understand why it was made."

9. Tony Parker (France)
"Inevitably you will sometimes react to calls but you still have to try and show a lot of respect to the referees in those type of situations," says the French superstar

The pair have an unmistakable mutual respect for each other with Nunn having officiated Parker during a 20-year stint as an NBA referee before being appointed as Director of Officiating.

The feedback from Parker was music to his ears having spent time recently collaborating with FIBA Europe to help further develop referees.

"Tony brings up a great subject and it's important because he is a gentleman and one of the great leaders not only in the NBA, but also for France and indeed for basketball right across the world," Nunn said.

"Effective communication is important for everyone, not just on the court but in today's world very much away from the court too. From a referee's standpoint, communication is a key skill and of course they also have to avoid over-communicating too.

"In my current role, I am continuing to work with FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin and especially FIBA Europe Head of Operations Miguel Betancor to develop our game officials."

Nunn continued: "Having worked and shared our expertise on concepts, philosophies and mechanics, I don't think officiating on both sides of the Atlantic has ever enjoyed so much synergy."

Meanwhile watching Parker remains a joy for a real basketball authority like Nunn and he was impressed with the way they held on for victory against Turkey during their first game of Round 2.

"It's especially great to catch up with such a talented young man as Tony once again. I really think France is talented. They move the ball well, they stay strong in situations like they found themselves in against Turkey when they could have easily lost. That's the mark of a potentially great team."

While Parker was genuinely flattered by the high praise dished out by Nunn, he wasn't getting too excited at the progress France have made just yet.

"It's a great honour when someone like Ronnie says something like this about our team.

"However, there's still a really long way to go but I am very happy with the way we are playing.

"Even when we are not playing our very best basketball, we are still winning games and that has to be a good sign for us."

Another good sign for EuroBasket 2011 is that it isn't just the referees who are receiving the plaudits. He also took time to pay tribute to the organisers and the special atmosphere surrounding the competition.

"It's a great tournament so far," beamed a relaxed Parker.

Before adding: "Lithuania really is a true country of basketball. You see it every single day on the faces of everybody and I am very happy to be here."


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