WEEKEND IN LAS VEGAS, ON FEB. 17, AND THE NBA'S MOST glamorous couple has just
arrived on the red carpet outside of Pure nightclub. The mere sight of Tony
Parker and Eva Longoria sets off a ministampede among the fans, photographers
and overcoiffed TV talent. The club is giving Parker and Longoria big bucks to
host a party, and running this publicity gantlet is the price they have to pay.
Longoria, effortlessly working the crowd, looks dazzling in a revealing
wraparound white top, short shorts and gold high heels that match her bling;
Parker wears a beige suit and a faraway look in his eyes. Sensing his
discomfort, Longoria takes charge as if she were the All-Star point guard.
"We're over here," she whispers, turning Parker toward a bank of
over here," she says, guiding him farther down the red carpet.
going to do one more over here," she says, spinning him toward another
cluster of cameras. Finally, she gently removes Parker's hand from hers and
steps away to be photographed without him. There is a reason she got top
billing on the party flyers: Longoria is a TV star, tabloid siren and fashion
trendsetter; her fianc� is merely in town for his second straight All-Star
Taking in the
spectacle, Parker offers a wary half smile. "This is Eva's world," he
says, "not mine."
Soon they are
herded inside, to a VIP section overlooking the dance floor. Thousands of
commoners have paid $20 or $30 a head to attend; spotting Parker and Longoria,
a sweaty mass of camera-wielding clubbers surges against the glass wall that
separates it from its hosts. As the night goes on, the celebrity wattage
increases, with Cameron Diaz, Nicky Hilton and Dennis Rodman among the boldface
names stopping by. Sequestered in the VIP area, Parker finally exhales, rapping
along with the thumping hip-hop and ordering bottle after bottle of Cristal for
his guests. He and Longoria exit the club at 3 a.m. and then spend another hour
gambling. When they call it a night, the All-Star tip-off is 13 hours away.
Arriving at the
arena the following afternoon, Longoria relays her pregame pep talk. "I
told Tony to take some aspirin because it was a long night of partying,"
she purrs. "He might be a little sluggish out there. He might be a little
THIS IS TONY
PARKER'S WORLD: A LOW-SLUNG, windowless building sheathed in aluminum on the
outskirts of San Antonio, set amid medical clinics, churches and minimalls.
This is the Spurs' practice facility, a structure befitting the franchise of
no-nonsense superstar Tim Duncan and buttoned-down coach Gregg Popovich. On a
team that prizes the Puritan work ethic, Parker is usually the last player to
leave the court, thanks to his daily ritual of extra shooting drills. Today is
no exception. It is two weeks after the All-Star Game, which means Parker is
back to business. Long after his teammates have left, he's stroking free
throws, changing baskets to force himself to adjust to different backdrops.
As Parker finally
leaves the court for the weight room, Popovich talks about how the 25-year-old
balances the responsibilities of running the Spurs and his glitzy life with
Longoria. " Tony Parker is one of the most mature young people I've ever
been around," says Popovich. "He's never been late to a practice, he's
never missed a shootaround. His dedication to this team is total."
Well, total might
be a bit strong. Two nights earlier, in a 107-91 home win over the Toronto
Raptors, Parker had game highs of 27 points and nine assists, guiding the Spurs
to their sixth victory in what would eventually be a season-high 13-game
winning streak. Minutes after stepping off the court, he beelined for a local
airstrip, where a private jet awaited. He is coy about his ultimate
destination—"Wouldn't you like to know?" he says with a twinkle—but
when Parker returned to San Antonio 24 hours later, Longoria was in town
This kind of
jet-setting is perhaps not ideal, but Parker has some experience working around
Longoria's schedule while she's in Los Angeles shooting Desperate Housewives,
the hit show that has made her a household name. On Jan. 28 he scored seven of
his team-high 19 points in overtime to help beat the Lakers 96-94 in L.A. After
the game he proceeded directly from Staples Center to the Shrine Auditorium to
escort Longoria to the Screen Actors Guild Awards. In the next day's USA Today,
Parker's on-court heroics earned all of one sentence in the sports section. The
life section featured a huge color picture of him and Longoria on the red
carpet, Parker's sharp gray pinstripe suit matching the color of her flowing
Vera Wang gown.