Paris (AFP)

His ski resort, Asvel, his wine: three years after the end of his professional basketball career, Tony Parker is reinventing himself as a businessman, a life recounted this week on the Olympia stage.

On the pediment of the legendary Parisian auditorium, the name of the quadruple NBA champion is displayed in red.

"You would have thought that I was going to do a concert but no," jokes "TP" during this charity event.

He evokes his brief musical career in the 2000s with a rap album: "TF1 at the time wanted me to go on tour, but I preferred to go to the French team, who knows what would have happened otherwise!" .

But today business has definitely taken precedence over music.

It is with one foot in the sport that Tony Parker develops his business, at the head of his own company of nearly "300 employees", Infinity Nine, in reference to the number 9 which he wore on his jersey of the San Antonio Spurs , his team in the NBA championship between 2001 and 2018.

"I love investing in sport, in France. So we will continue to try to inspire people and raise French sport to the top," he told AFP on the sidelines of the event.

- "Go as high as possible" -

Present last week at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, since last year he has been an ambassador of horse racing, with the ambition of raising awareness of the discipline.

He has set up his own stable, Infinity Nine Horses, and has his own filly, "Mangoustine", who won the Critérium de Lyon in September.

"With the Covid there was a little break. We will have to be patient. But we have an approach which means that we want to be present over the four seasons. We do not want to depend on the snow", specifies -it when talking about the lack of snow on the French resorts.

Basketball is never far away.

Tony Parker is still at the peak of his career, in 2009, when he chooses to become a shareholder of Asvel, the Villeurbanne club, before buying him in 2014 and becoming president.

"The objective is always to go as high as possible", confides the main interested party in front of the thousand fans and guests making up the public of the Olympia.

- The ultimate dream, an NBA franchise -

Also on the board of directors of OL Groupe, which owns 35% of Asvel, he also does not deny the rumors of a future as president of Olympique Lyonnais: "We'll see later, but I 'm lucky to learn with a president like Jean-Michel Aulas ".

Olympique Lyonnais President Jean-Michel Aulas and French basketball player Tony Parker attend an NBA basketball game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Hornets at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on January 24, 2020 FRANCK FIFE AFP / Archives

It is also in Lyon that its "Tony Parker Academy" opened in 2019.

The 40 million euro project cultivates this appetite for sport but also its side.

Students who are passionate about sports are supported to try to succeed in their discipline, while discovering the professions that surround them such as marketing or management.

The courses range from high school to higher education, with diplomas issued by universities and schools in Lyon.

As as a young basketball player, Tony Parker, the businessman still dreams of America, and of buying an NBA club in the years to come: "I would very much like to create a group with the French" develops the one that some collaborators take “for a madman.” Still joking, he does not hide that buying Spurs costs “1.8 billion dollars.

Honestly, I don't have them! ".

In the meantime, the 2013 European champion with the Blues has yet another project in mind, less sporty.

A vineyard and the launch of its own wine, red and white: "What do you want, I'm French!".

© 2021 AFP

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