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Tony Parker & Adidas: A Partnership For the Long Run

As he enters the Basketball Hall of Fame, Tony Parker is teaming up with The Three Stripes to help grow hoops in France & connect with the next generation of players around the world. 

With a new multi-year deal in place, San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker will serve as a global brand ambassador for Adidas, a strategic advisor on key initiatives and player signings throughout Europe, and a bridge to the next generation of players to come.

Tony Parker is an icon,” said Cam Mason, Adidas Basketball’s Head of Sports Marketing. “He’s a legend and a Hall of Famer this year. He’s entering the French Hall of Fame this year, too. He’s a legend in Europe and we needed somebody that can be a stakeholder for us.” 

As Mason details, the deal came together in conjunction with the Adidas France regional team, as the company looks for Parker to help the brand’s efforts to continue to emphasize its presence in hoops throughout the European market. 

“He’s really invested in youth basketball, not only in France, but all over Europe,” adds Paul Webber, Adidas Basketball’s Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing. “We want to continue to grow the game together.”

Ahead of his Hall of Fame induction, Boardroom caught up with the Class of 2023 inductee to discuss his new long-term partnership at the brand’s revitalized Adidas EuroCamp in Treviso, Italy. In the exclusive conversation, Parker also discusses the best business advice he received from Magic Johnson, his success in team ownership over the last decade in France, and his big plans ahead as Paris is set to host the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. 

Tony Parker Adidas
Photo courtesy of Adidas
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Nick DePaula: How would you describe your relationship with Adidas since your retirement? 

Tony Parker: I was looking for a partner for my team that I own, ASVEL. I own the men’s team and the women’s team, and I have my academy. I was with Peak [during my final seasons in the league] and I knew that we were heading toward the end of my contract. I wanted to try and have a partner that was professional and could really help me grow my team. That’s how it started.

The ASVEL soccer team was already sponsored by Adidas. Then in 2019, Adidas became a basketball sponsor of my men’s team, the women’s team, and the academy. Last year, we did one jersey design that all of the teams wore and we try to do a lot together.

I realized I was wearing Adidas shirts, shoes, and everything was Adidas. I said, “I think I should sign with Adidas too.” [laughs] It makes sense. Adidas is a brand that is respected by everybody, has been around forever and it was a natural fit for where I am in my career, now that it’s my post-career. 

It worked out perfect. I was so happy when we had the first discussion with the big boss in France and we talked about what we can do together, with the Olympics coming to France next year and with different courts that we can create all around France. We’ve got so many ideas, with everything that I do with my camps and with my foundation, that it was just a great fit.

Now, we’re having talks about having EuroCamp possibly at my academy in France. Adidas has so many great ideas and a great team, so it was perfect timing and a perfect fit — hopefully for a long time. I’ve always done long-term partnerships with the different brands that I’ve worked with. I did 13 years [with Nike] and 10 years [with Peak], and hopefully with Adidas, I can stay for the long term. 

I’ve seen everything they’ve done in France with [Zinedine] Zidane in soccer, and hopefully, we can do something similar in basketball. After your career, you still have an image, can be an ambassador for the brand, and can help the young kids coming up and be involved with which players we should sign. That’s stuff that I love to do. 

Tony Parker Adidas
Parker poses with ASVEL’s French Elite championship trophy in 2019. (Romain LaGarbregue / AFP / Getty Images)

NDP: You first entered into team ownership in 2009 and then became majority owner of ASVEL in 2014 – what have you learned since you’ve been working on the ownership side of the sport?

TP: It’s always something that I wanted to do and always something that I had in mind. I was very blessed to make good money in the NBA and invest, and I always knew that was going to be my way to give back to French basketball. In ’09, I bought 20% because I wanted to see how it works. Then in 2014, I bought majority, and in 2017, I bought the women’s team. It was important and I wanted to have both teams. I’m an ambassador for the United Nations and I’m big on equality. 

Then, the academy opened in 2019. We now have a new arena in Lyon that will be NBA level, and that is opening on Nov. 15. It’s brand new and it’ll be the best arena in France, along with the one in Paris. We just signed a 10-year deal with Live Nation and we will be getting all of the best concerts, too. 

NDP: I’m sure you’re hoping to host an NBA Global Games there down the road. What did you learn about team ownership up close during your career in how the Spurs were operated? 

TP: It’s about the culture. The winning culture that we built together is something that I definitely use now with ASVEL. The Spurs organization is definitely considered one of the best franchise cultures in all of sports. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do with our team, there’s a lot of things that I took from the Spurs. 

NDP: What are some other business ventures that you’ve enjoyed pursuing since you retired? 

TP: I just go with my passion. I have a group called Infinity 9 Group, and we have three sections: Sports, Education, and the Way of Living. For Sports, I have my teams with ASVEL, a ski resort, and a horse racing team, too. 

In Education, I have my academy in Lyon, and I’m going to open one in Paris as well, after the Olympics. People are always worried about what a country will do [with facilities] after the Olympics are over, so I’m going to take that campus over and it’s going to be the Tony Parker Academy in Paris in 2025. 

Then, the third section is the Way of Living. That’s where I have my champagne, my wine, and my health drink — Smart Good Things. I don’t really think I’m working. I don’t count my hours. I just go with my passions and this is stuff that I love and that I’m passionate about. 

Tony Parker Adidas
Photo courtesy of Adidas

NDP: That’s also stuff you were passionate about while you were playing.

TP: Definitely, and that’s something I talked to the kids at EuroCamp about. When I was 24, I had a big meeting with Magic Johnson. I asked him, “What advice can you give me to be successful in business?” He said, “Create your network now. Right now, everyone wants to talk to you and every CEO will accept a meeting with you because you’re playing in the NBA. Don’t wait until you retire.”

So that’s exactly what I did. Instead of playing video games, every road trip I was organizing a meeting with a CEO to try and be a sponge and try to learn. I created my network and I was able to prepare for everything that I wanted to do. 

People always asked me, “Well, would you buy a European team during your career?” While I was playing, it was easy. I bought the team, I got all the sponsors, and everyone wanted to talk to me. A lot of guys go into depression when they retire, and they don’t know what to do. For your whole life, you did the same thing every day — practice, games, and your life is set. 

For me, I had one more year on my contract when I retired. I called Michael Jordan, my boss at the time, and said, “I don’t want to do my last year. I’m good and I’m excited for retirement.” That’s why the transition was so good for me. I accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish. I won everything that I wanted to win. For me, I was super excited about retirement.  

Tony Parker Adidas
Photo courtesy of Adidas

NDP: You mentioned accomplishing everything that you wanted to, and now you’re officially entering the Basketball Hall of Fame. What sticks out as that one favorite moment though?

TP: If I had to choose one moment, I would choose the championship in 2014. That moment was hard to get. I had won very early in my career — my second year. My second year was great because it was a Game 7, and it felt like a Super Bowl, with one game for everything. [2007] was special, because of becoming the first European to win Finals MVP. 

I would go with 2014, though, because it took seven years for us to come back after losing in the Conference Finals in 2012, and losing in the Finals in 2013. We could’ve easily said, “We’re never gonna win again.” But we didn’t want people to remember us like that. The way we played and the chemistry we had, the media said it was some of the best basketball that they’d seen in NBA history. That year, I had one of my best years, because I was an All-Star, All-NBA, and we won the Finals. 

NDP: What are you most excited about as you look ahead to the partnership with Adidas?

TP: I’m just excited that we’re having so many talks about what we want to do. Right now, we have so many ideas and Adidas is going to be very involved with the Olympics next year. It’s going to be a huge event in Paris and everyone is excited. It feels like it’s going to be tomorrow. I’m just excited about being with a partner that wants to do so much together.

It’s the beginning of a long story. 

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