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FRA – Parker: "Lockout or no lockout, I will play for France"

PARIS (EuroBasket 2011) - The letters NBA could stand for "No Basketball Anymore" if a lockout takes place this summer, as many fear it will.

French playmaker Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs says that if it does happen, he'll remain in Europe and play.

And he also says that a lockout will not keep him away from the national team which is trying to get to the EuroBasket Final and qualify for the London Olympics.

"Whether there is a lockout or not, I'll be with the French national team," he said in an interview with French daily L'Equipe.

"It's pretty sure there will be a lockout in July.

"I talked about it with my agent who hopes we won't miss any regular season games.

"But (Parker's team-mate) Matt Bonner (the Spurs' player representative), thinks it will be a long lockout.

"If there is a lockout, I will stay in France and why not play there. It depends for how long I'm there. I've told my agent about it and told him to start looking for an apartment."

Serious challenge

Even if the NBA were to start on time next season, Parker believes the Spurs' chances of mounting a serious title challenge have gone.

San Antonio went into the playoffs with the best record in the Western Conference (61-21) and the top seed but lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, the last team to make it into the post-season.

"It was a huge disappointment for us," Parker said.

"I went to see Pop (Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich) at his youth training center. He was sad, Tim (Duncan), too.

"We're all frustrated because we had a great regular season during which we dominated.

"It was a tough match-up for us. They dominated us inside," he admitted.

Parker, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Tuesday, believes things might have been different had the Spurs faced a team other than the Grizzlies.

"If we had faced Dallas or Oklahoma, it would have been better for us," he argued.

"But that's sport. It comes down to the smallest thing.

"It's a case where everyone played well for Memphis."

Parker says that age has finally caught up with the Spurs.

"At the start of the season I said this was our last chance," he said.

"Tim and Gino (Manu Ginobili) are getting old. It's going to be tough to regenerate ourselves.

"We will always have a good team but we can no longer say that we're playing for a championship."

Financial issues

While Parker says that he will be with the French national team in Lithuania, a lockout would create some serious financial issues.

"If there is a lockout, the NBA won't pay their part for the players' insurances (to play at the EuroBasket, FIBA Americas Championship, Afrobasket, FIBA Oceania Championship)," he warned.

"So that's going to create a huge problem. There have already been some meetings and we will see what happens.

"We will see what Patrick Beesley (France national team director) and his team get out of it.

"We will have to see with Boris (Diaw) and Joakim (Noah) if we can get together and find a common accord. We'll see."

Would Parker pay for his own insurance?

"No I won't pay (insurance out of his own pocket to play for France) (laughs)," he said.

"It depends how much. Boris did it."

Formidable Noah

Parker believes that if Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls plays, France will be formidable in Lithuania.

"The goal is to win the title," Parker said.

"You have to finish first or second to go to the Olympics.

"Otherwise, the most important thing is to finish in the top six to go to the (FIBA) Olympic Qualifying Tournament."

"It's going to be long and that's why it's important to have a big team. We will play 11 games in a short period of time. It's a marathon really."


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