Parker's continued evolution could be biggest reason why Spurs are back in NBA Finals

Tony Parker was issued a challenge two years ago.

The San Antonio Spurs watched what he did with the French national team. He controlled the games. He was his national team's unquestioned leader. And it didn't take long for Gregg Popovich and the rest of the Spurs organization to decide that the time was right for Parker to assume a similar role in San Antonio.

Parker has more than responded.

The Spurs return to the NBA Finals on Thursday night. And even in a year where Tim Duncan has been able to turn back the clock and post one of his best seasons, Parker is probably the biggest reason why that's the case.

The Spurs are 42-8 this season when Parker scores 20 points, just 17-13 when he doesn't.