San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has said that France’s defeat to Spain in the Olympics was the final time he will represent his country.
France were comprehensively defeated 92-67 by the Spaniards in the quarter-final, just days after losing by only three points to the USA with Parker resting.
His retirement means he will no longer play for his country in next summer’s EuroBasket competition and can conserve his energy to be at his best while representing the Spurs in the long NBA seasons.
The Frenchman has opted to make this decision now, believing it will help his body as he enters the final few years of his career, before adding: “I don’t want to throw away everything we’ve done. I’m very proud of what we did as a national team.”
This will be an important boost for San Antonio, as they are looking to bounce back from two consecutive years without making the Conference finals, following their title winning campaign in the 2013-14 season.
But Parker was not the only Spurs legend to announce his international retirement, with Manu Ginobili also calling it a day yesterday after his Argentina side were beaten by the USA.
With Tim Duncan ending his NBA career this summer, Parker says it is important that Ginobili is staying with the Spurs for one more year, so two thirds of San Antonio’s big three remain intact.
He commented: “I’m happy Manu got one more year, so it’s not everybody at the same time. That day will come too, and then my day will come. It’s just life.”
While Parker and Ginobili have been away from the Spurs this summer, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford have been looking for ways to keep the team a title contender as the big three have broken up.
Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge are already in place for future years, but the Spurs have opted to add an additional piece in free agency in the form of Pau Gasol, part of the Spain side that defeated Parker’s France yesterday.
Gasol and Parker have known each other for many years, and the Frenchman sounds eager to get the chance to play with him for the first time.
“Great friend on and off the court,” Parker said of Gasol. “I’ve been playing against him since like 14 years old. I was so happy that he decided to come and play with San Antonio.”
The Frenchman seems excited about the upcoming season with the Spurs and, following his international exit, he could still have more productive years to come.