Friday, June 12, 2009

Express News: Paris-Bound Parker Promises To Stay Healthy
By Mike Monroe - Express-News

Spurs All-NBA point guard Tony Parker is headed to France in a few weeks to begin training with Les Bleus, the French national team that will attempt to earn the final berth in EuroBasket 2009 in an additional round of qualifying next month.

During a stopover in San Antonio after a lengthy European vacation, Parker took time to visit the team's youth basketball camp, where he engaged in some spirited pickup games with youngsters barely topping 4 feet in height, and in spirited commentary on reports that Manu Ginobili believes a trade away from the Spurs no longer seems impossible.

“I don't know why he said that, but I don't think he's going nowhere,” Parker said. “Everybody loves him here, and I love playing with him, and I don't think he's going anywhere.

“If I was him, I wouldn't second-guess anything. He's like God here. Come on, man. He speaks Spanish and everything. He's not going anywhere.”

Parker is going back to France soon, where he will conduct his own youth basketball camp. During his visit to the Spurs' youth camp, at University of the Incarnate Word, he discovered a nemesis wearing a Dirk Nowitzki No. 41 Mavericks jersey, a youngster with a sweet perimeter shot he used to beat Parker in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

The Spurs star didn't mind. At the end of the day he hollered, “Hey, Nowitzki, come here.”

Then Parker invited the young man, and two other campers, to attend his basketball camp in Paris in July.

“I love spending time with kids, teaching them and having fun,” Parker said. “I'm going to do the same thing in Paris, between July 4-14. Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) is coming, too, between July 7-12.”

Parker joked with a local sports anchor that he could come to cover the camp if he would pick up the tab for the kids. He got an instant turndown.

“I guess I'll have to pay,” Parker said, laughing.

Parker will be in France for another camp too: In mid-July, he'll train with the French national team, seeking to claim the final berth for EuroBasket 2009 in an additional qualifying round next month.

Parker will be the only Spurs player involved in international play this summer, and he's confident he is young enough to compete for his homeland and still be fresh through an 82-game NBA season.

“Maybe after I'm 30 years old I will worry about it ... 31, 32. Then it might be tough to play a full season. But right now I'm young. Hopefully, everything will be fine.”

Parker said he was encouraged by the pronouncement this week that Ginobili, his teammate who suffered a stress fracture in his right distal fibula in early April, believes he will be 100 percent healthy by the start of training camp.

“I'm sure, I'm sure,” Parker said. “It's just one season. Everybody gets injured. Even Michael Jordan missed (most of a season) with his foot. ... So I'm not worried about anything. It will be good for us. It will be good for everybody.”

He recently returned from a European vacation that included stops for French Open tennis and a Spanish soccer tournament to watch his friend, soccer star Thierry Henry. Parker said there was one sports event that had not gotten much attention from him: the NBA Finals.

“I haven't even watched,” he said. “I know (the Lakers) are up 2-1. I'll watch Game 4 tonight.”

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