The anatomy of Parker

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

The deal that landed Anthony Parker with the Raptors featured longtime contacts, coincidences, international connections and a whole lot of creativity.

This wasn't your typical basketball transaction and Parker isn't your typical player.

This is why the Raptors paid as much as they did for Bryan Colangelo and are getting every dollar's worth.

It all began with Marco Crespi, the director of international scouting for the Phoenix Suns. For the better part of two years, every time Crespi, an European basketball lifer, spoke to Colangelo he bugged him about Parker.

"He kept saying 'You've got to sign this guy,' " Colangelo said.

"When I went to the Final Four in Prague last year, I was in my new position with the Raptors and Maurizio (Gherardini) was there, but he was not working here yet. Anthony was unbelievable in the first game against Barcelona. He just dominated that game.

"Now if you fast forward a little, Maurizio is now working with us, we're looking at the available pool of free agents and Parker isn't one of the players available. He had another year to go on his contact (in Israel), but we had heard through some back channels that he had an interest in coming back to the NBA."

But how to get it done was the question.

Gherardini happens to be in tight with Maccabi Tel Aviv manager Shimon Mizrahi. He made some calls. Colangelo had a connection to Tal Brody, who played college ball with his father, and Illinois and was significantly involved with the Maccabi team. He made some calls.

Rather than take an end run at Parker, Colangelo decided to be straight up . "I think they appreciated we dealt with them directly," he said.

They also appreciated the relationship that had been built between Raptors ownership and the storied Israeli team. All that had to be accomplished was to negotiate a buyout.

Colangelo offered $1 million and then $1.5 million to try to get Parker out. He thought that would be enough: Under the terms of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, the most a team can pay to buy out a player is $500,000.

The rest of the money comes from the departing player.

In the end, as both a symbolic and significant buyout the Raptors offered $1.8 million to free Parker to sign in Toronto.

The 1.8 number comes from the Hebrew number 18, the number Parker now wears on his Toronto uniform: The Jewish symbol signifying life.

"I think they appreciated the figure," Colangelo said. "I've had others tell me that."

Parker, by himself, has had to relinquish $1.3 million of his $4-million salary this season in order to play.

So far, everyone has received value for their investment.

"We pencilled Anthony in as a key piece, the question was, was he going to be a starter or come off the bench? Was he going to be a 2 or a 3? All that had to work itself out," Colangelo said.

"He has played beyond our expectations. For a guy of his age (31) who had been outside the NBA for as long as he was (six years) to have accomplished this much is incredible. You're starting to hear it around the league, how he's one of the unheralded players, one of the heralded signings."

Even Gherardini, a longtime Parker believer, is amazed by what he has seen this season.

"You always wondered why he ended up with the MVP honours (in Europe) when if you look at the numbers, he was never the top scorer, the top rebounder, the top anything. But he was the key to the championship teams over there.

"Even the year he spent in the Italian League in Rome he came in and changed the face of that team by scoring 14-15-16 points a game. Not great numbers. He just has something."

It's almost ironic that Anthony Parker's coming out party in the NBA is occurring in a series against the New Jersey Nets, the team that first drafted him.

Parker lasted less than one day with the Nets, before he was traded to a Philadelphia team that already had Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse. He played parts of two seasons in Philadelphia, 16 games in Orlando and was waived out of the NBA in 2000.

There are few stories like this one anywhere, of a failed player returning after a lengthy exile and making a difference. The Raptors found both a gem and a bargain in Israel as well as a humble, experienced and grounded player.

"It has been a journey," said Parker, the 26-point scorer in Game 2. "I have been waiting a long time for this."


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