The SportsHeads Meets: Tony Parker & Nicolas Batum

DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 5: Tony Parker #9 of the Charlotte Hornets plays the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center on January 5, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

 

Tony Parker

 

On the popularity of the NBA in France…

I don’t know, I think the way that the NBA market themselves and the image that they have and all the players that have been through the league through the years – NBA basketball has always been very big in France. They really love it so that’s why the NBA has done a really good job in exposing NBA basketball to French fans. I went to France twice with the Spurs in ’04 and ’07 I always had a great time and the arena was always packed. Now that there’s a regular season game, it goes further in that maybe one day there will be an NBA Europe section.

 

On the first regular season game in France…

It’s amazing the way the NBA is growing and now we’re going to play a regular season game in France, that’s pretty amazing. It’s a great honour for my country to receive a game like this and I’m especially proud that it’s the team that I play for that are coming. I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing event and an amazing game.

 

On playing at home…

For me, it’s unbelievable to play at home in front of all my family and all my friends. It’s going to different because it’s a meaningful game, but that’s great.

 

On French players in the NBA…

I think the way we play basketball, we’ve got a lot of speed and a lot of the guys are very athletic so we’re very close to the NBA in that respect. I think that’s why we get a lot interest from NBA scouts because they love the way we play.

 

On leaving a legacy in Europe…

The NBA always does a really good job wherever we went. Obviously we went to France with the Spurs twice, in both Paris and Lyon. We went to Germany, we went to Turkey. Every time we went we would do a lot of work for the community there and make sure we make an impact.

 

On the Hornets in Paris…

Oh they’ll do a great job. Obviously everyone knows our owner [Michael Jordan] in France. He’s a big part of why basketball is so big in France so I think everyone is going to be looking forward to the event in France.

PHOENIX, AZ – JANUARY 6: Nicolas Batum #5 of the Charlotte Hornets handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns on January 6, 2019 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

 

Nicolas Batum

 

On the NBA Paris Game 2020…

It’s huge [NBA Paris Game 2020], I’m very happy for France, the city of Paris and the French people who love basketball and the NBA because we’ve been wanting it for a while. I think the last game in France was in 2010 and we have a lot of French players playing basketball in the NBA so I’m very excited for the city and the country in general because I think they deserve it.

 

On his love of the NBA…

We grew up watching the NBA, the games were at 4am so it was tough to watch it live but we tried to follow it anyway. We would record the games and watch the next day as after we’d done our homework we were allowed to watch the NBA. It wasn’t easy at the time because we didn’t have League Pass or anything like that but we still found a way to watch the league and I grew up with it.

 

On the Paris Game being the First regular-season game in France…

It’s great because it used to be a preseason game every time and TP [Tony Parker] played a couple of times. Actually the first time I saw an NBA game was when I watched the Spurs play the Grizzlies in Paris in 2004 which was great. When the Chicago Bulls won the NBA Championship in 1997 with Michael Jackson that was a huge thing in Paris so I’m excited for people in France to have the chance to watch a real game.

The Charlotte Hornets will host the Milwaukee Bucks at The AccordHotels Arena on January 24 2020. Fans can register their interest in tickets and gain access to presale information and more by visiting NBAEvents.com/ParisGame.