|24 September 2013|
|Tony Parker has hinted at resting next summer but for sure wants to be around in 2015 to help his team to qualify for the Olympics in 2016 |
Within 24 hours, Tony Parker realised one of the biggest dreams of his life and a big wish for the future.
"In 2000, we won the [U18] European Championship and something happened in my heart," Parker said following France's victory over Lithuania in the EuroBasket 2013 final.
"I was like 'man, this is great basketball, I love playing for my national team'.
"Boris [Diaw], Florent Pietrus, and Ronny Turiaf...we all had that fire to play for the national team and we promised each other that we would win the first one ever at senior level.
It then took the now 31-year-old star 13 long years 'because then Pau Gasol arrived with Spain and it became a long journey', as he explained, but Parker realised his teenage dream on Sunday.
"Three months ago I was in Barcelona doing a commercial and we had lunch together, and I told him [Pau] 'man, 13 years and I am still chasing it, it's because of you'," Parker said.
"If there was no Pau with this talented Spanish generation, I would have a gold medal before.
"But it made the journey even better."
In the wake of the historical triumph, the smiling veteran San Antonio Spurs playmaker also expressed a wish.
"Hopefully, coach Collet will stay with us, because he too is one of the main reasons why I come back every year," Parker said.
"Because he takes care of my body, he is my European coach Pop [Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich].
"You know, he doesn't kill me with two practices a day and stuff like that, some times he leaves me alone because he knows I will show up in the big games.
"So that is a big thing for me, to have coach Collet re-signed.
"So I'll have to talk to the French President to make sure he gets a big contract, you know?" he said laughing.
It is unlikely that coach Collet's contract was a topic of discussion when the President of France, Francois Hollande received the EuroBasket champions at the Élysée Palace on Monday, but Tony got his wish regardless.
Less than 24 hours after the gold medal success in Slovenia, the French Basketball Federation (FFBB) announced that Collet will stay at the helm of the senior national team until the 2016 Olympics, in Rio.
|Vincent Collet was automatically re-signed by the FFBB to remain in his position through 2016 |
"We have agreed with Vincent [Collet] to continue the work that has been done in recent years and has enabled France to win its first ever European title," FFBB president Jean-Pierre Siutat stated.
"After a silver medal in [EuroBasket] 2011, a very good run at the London Games in 2012, and a historic medal in 2013, I hope that we can continue this great work into the 2016 Olympic Games."
At this moment in time, it seems like France will be able to count on Parker to return in Ukraine in two years' time and help them defend their European title.
But it is less probable that European fans will have the chance to enjoy watching the prolific point guard next year in Spain.
"With the national team, we have three more years to try and do something before I retire," Parker said at the press conference after the EuroBasket final in Ljubljana.
"Because then I'll be done coach, I am just telling you," he turned and told Collet, who was seated next to him, making a room packed with journalists erupt in laughter and applause.
"To be honest with you, I don't know right now [if I will play at FIBA World Cup in 2014].
"[EuroBasket] 2015 and [Olympic Games] 2016, if we qualify hopefully, for sure I will play.
"Next year, I don't know right now, it depends how I feel, this year was very hard for me physically."