'The ultimate goal for me was always to be in the EuroLeague'
A playing legend whose second basketball career is about to make him a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague club owner, Tony Parker, is the special first guest contributor to EuroLeague VLOGS, a new content form designed to bring fans closer to the protagonists of the game.
Parker retired on Monday as the most accomplished French basketball player ever after a career that saw him win four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs and power France to the EuroBasket gold medal in 2013. Now, he will lead LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, the most successful club in French basketball history, into the EuroLeague next season as its owner and president.
"The ultimate goal for me was always to be in the EuroLeague," Parker says to start his EuroLeague VLOG. "I wanted to give back to my country, help French basketball go very high, and the highest you can go is the EuroLeague in Europe."
It is the culmination of a plan that he dreamed about when he became a minority investor in the club back in 2009 and started to put in place when he became ASVEL's full owner five years ago.
"The growth of the EuroLeague is...I don't think they have a limit, you know," Parker said. "People love basketball in Europe, and the EuroLeague is taking the right steps to make it grow, so for me as an investor, it's just great to be affiliated to that."
Parker has stocked ASVEL with some of the best young talents in France, a strategy that paid dividends as the team rose to within a three-point shot of making the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals this season and is now poised to fight for its second French League title in five years as the country's playoff finals begin this weekend. Win or lose, ASVEL's next stop is the EuroLeague starting next October, a fact that makes Parker proud.
"We miss the EuroLeague in France. I'm so happy that my team and that France can get the EuroLeague and get that experience," he says. "Now, we're going to have those big games coming to town, so I'm very excited.
"I know a lot of people who are like, 'I prefer to watch EuroLeague games than NBA games during the regular season'...because of the intensity and the way they play… The EuroLeague is definitely, definitely improving. And I know that anybody who watches the EuroLeague is not going to get bored because it's great games."