San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker received high praise from Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker is arguably the best NBA player to come from France. He came to the league in 2001, as the Spurs selected him at No. 28 overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. 16 years later, he remains part of the team.
Parker’s NBA success led to others joining from France. This includes Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic, and former San Antonio Spur Boris Diaw.
This work caught the eye of another Frenchman, but not from the NBA. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger discussed his appreciation of Parker and what he did for the Association on Arsenal.com (h/t News4SanAntonio.com):
“I like team play, so [I watch] basketball because we have as well many French players who go and play in the NBA.”
“So I follow as well the French players. I like Tony Parker and before him Michael Jordan of course.”
“I think Tony Parker opened the way for many French players to join the league.”
Parker will only continue to open the door for other Frenchmen to join the league. There are plenty playing in the Euroleague, some of which will enter a future NBA Draft or join the league as a free agent.
From the 2017 selection show, French point guard Frank Ntilikina went at No. 9 overall to the New York Knicks. He’ll get the opportunity to fill the shoes of Parker as the next French player at the one spot to have a successful career.
As Parker nears the end of his career, it’s a chance to start looking back on what he did, not just for French point guards, but from all over the world that wants to replicate his success. That may happen sooner than later.