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"I feel like I'm living a dream" - Tony Parker interviewed by Yahoo! France

Tony Parker sat down with Yahoo! France to talk about the Spurs' chance of repeating, France's World Cup performance, next year's Eurobasket tournament and if he thinks he's reached his peak yet.

Boris Streubel

If you understand French or just want to make sure that Tony hasn't lost his looks you can watch the interview here. If not, Pounding the Rock is proud to bring you a translation of the French interview for your enjoyment.

Thanks to Olivier Friker for the heavy lifting in translating the interview.


Question: What are you currently doing in France?

Tony: I'm here on vacation but I also have had the chance to get some business done. I'm involved in some events for my sponsors and I also came to take care of my club ASVEL [Tony owns a 20% stake in ASVEL Basket] which has some big games coming up with both the French Pro A league and the Euroleague about to start.

Question: You're a father now, how has it changed your life ?

Tony: It changes your priorities so you don't look at your life the same way. I'm very proud that he's [Josh Parker] here and I hope that we'll help him to grow up and be a good person.

Question: Do you take part in the parental tasks?

Tony: Yeah, sure. I am a father who's involved in all the tasks. I like to help with the diapers, all of that... I like to be aware of what's going on.

Question: You also got married. Is this important for you?

Tony: I think it is important for your balance. I've always been well supported. There's always support behind every top sportsman from their family and friends...You can't succeed all alone. I have always been very close to my family and it's been important for me to have my parents and my brothers by my side throughout my career.

Question: How can you stay a bit French, which we're proud of, considering that you're more and more American?

Tony: I regularly come back to France to play with the national team, to work with my sponsors, or to help with my foundation. I'm also an ambassador for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I host my basketball camps in Fécamp, Normandy, which is the place where I started to play basketball. I always have a foot here.

Question: You've become a symbol of success in France. How do you handle that?

Tony: I always try to be a good representative of my country in the United States. You know, I left when I was a very ambitious 19 year old with "The American Dream." I've always been a big dreamer. I've always had an entrepreneur-like approach and I wanted to succeed both on and off the court. I wanted to be an ambassador for French basketball.
My idol growing up was Michael Jordan. He was the perfect example for succeeding on and off the court. So at my level - of course I'm not going to compare myself to MJ - I want to do the same for French basketball.

Question: What is the reason for your success? Work?

Tony: I don't want to sound too cliche, but yes, you've got to work hard. You have to be disciplined, take care of your body and watch what you eat. All of the things that you're told about when you're trying to become a pro athlete, all of that is true. There are many guys who are very talented but not disciplined enough. Partying too often is an example. There are many little things that can make the difference between a good career and a great career.

Question: At 32, sports wise, where do you think you are? At the top?

Tony: I feel really good physically. I don't feel like I'm getting old or like I'm slowing down. I'm still hungry, even though I have won everything in my career. I want to continue to be challenged, and with the Spurs, we've got a great challenge now: try to repeat, which we have never done.

With Team France, there's the Eurobasket 2015 tournament and getting to play it in your home country is huge. Defending the title is not going to be easy. And then, there's an Olympic medal. For me, the perfect ending would be to win the European championship in France in 2015 and meet the US in the Olympic finals in 2016. That would be great.

Question: Do you feel like you're still improving, or like you have reached your apex?

Tony: I feel like I reached the apex. Basketball players are commonly thought to have their best years between 28 and 32. Because you have the experience but you're still strong and fast. So I think I reached the apex. Then, you can always try to improve, to become a better shooter, a better defender.

Question: Frankly, when you think about it... Four NBA titles [is quite an achievement]

Tony: I can hardly believe it. Sometimes I must pinch myself because I feel like I'm living a dream. When I see the names I have surpassed on the various lists - best scorers, best passers...and all of the things I've accomplished with Tim, Manu and Popovich...It feels odd.

Question: Do you think the Spurs reached new heights during the 2014 NBA Finals against the Heat?

Tony: I think it's going to be difficult to play at that level and I don't know if we can continue to play as well as we did. We played almost perfectly and I think we left a mark on the world of basketball with the way we played, with the way we moved the ball. We were all in harmony. We all played our best basketball at the best possible time. It will be tough to do it again.

Question: You said it, repeating is a tough challenge.

Tony: It's always tough to defend a title. The Spurs franchise has five titles but there has never been a repeat. I think that in order to reach the Lakers, Bulls and Celtics dynasties, it will be good for us if we can repeat.

Question: What are the similarities and differences between the head coaches of Team France and the Spurs?

Tony: Popovich is tougher and more severe. It's not easy to compare him with a coach you only see for two months during the summer. It's different. [With Team France] things must move fast and players are tired. Vincent Collet [French head coach] is much more relaxed because of those reasons. He is a true technician who knows the game and he is very picky about what he's asking. Popovich is like that, too -- a perfectionist who's picky and tough. In that sense, both are quite similar.

Question: How did it feel to watch the World Cup from the outside? Was it painful? 

Tony: Yes, it was. I was resting in the US which I think was the right thing to do. The young players got the opportunity to establish themselves, and that will be good for team France next year. I think that next year, France can have its best team ever if everyone is available and healthy. And if Joakim [Noah] is back, we can certainly have a terrific team.

Question: Did you talk to the team before the World Cup?

Tony: Yes, starting with the preparation phase. I was watching the friendly games and I communicated with the players and coaching staff. I would mainly text Boris [Diaw,] Nico [Nicolas Batum] and Edwin [Jackson,] even during the competition. What they did against Spain was huge because it's not easy to go there and win. Then it got difficult against Serbia. It's always difficult to play after an upset. After that loss they still had the energy to get the bronze.

Question: The finals were within reach.

Tony: Sure! I thought, "If I had been there, we might have made it to the Finals." But with ifs, you could change the world. So I'm just focused on the next year. We must win the gold next year.

Question: This event [Eurobasket 2015 in France] is going to be fantastic.

Tony: Huge! We will play the pool games in Montpellier in front 10,000 people. Last year, we played there against Spain and the atmosphere was huge. Then the elimination rounds in Lille will be in front of 27,000 people! I have never played in front of so many people. The most I've played against is in the Bull's arena with 22,000.