How Tony Parker Selects His NBA Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony Wine

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The most decorated French basketball player is being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 12th. His name is Tony Parker. Born in Bruges, Belgium to a basketball-playing father from Chicago, and a Dutch mother whose own mama was a champion tennis player. From a young age he idolized the game of football, the same game we refer to as soccer. Then he laid eyes on Michael Jordan. Bulls games were must-see TV in the Parker house, with the 1991 & 1992 back-to-back Championships sparking a new love that forever changed the course of Tony's life. When the The Dream Team came to Europe leading up to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, they played a friendly versus France in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Tony's father knew he had to bring his son to watch history. Seeing the best players in the world up close kindled the big dream to aim for the NBA. From that day, age 10 onwards, Tony was all about basketball. At the time it was quite rare to have European Guards playing in the NBA. It wasn't until 1997 that the first French national made their way to the league - Tariq Abdul‑Wahad was drafted 11th overall in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. The door was cracked open, just a few years later the wind would blow Tony through that door, and smashing up through the glass ceiling.

"You have to dream big, I always tell the kids at my Academy," Tony laughs and pauses. "If you tell somebody your dreams and he isn't laughing at you, you aren't dreaming big enough. So I was dreaming very very big at the time. You have to put it in perspective, now every top European player gets drafted, but back then it was really hard to get drafted out of Europe."

Tony Parker & Michel Reybier at Château La Mascaronne<p>📸 by Sebastien Clavel</p>
Tony Parker & Michel Reybier at Château La Mascaronne

📸 by Sebastien Clavel

Each decade there are certain individuals that enter the league who immediately make an impact with their team, and on basketball as a whole. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a very small percentage of players entering the NBA were from countries outside of the USA. In recent years it's become common place for top draft picks to come from the EU and other countries, but it's a relatively new development. So factor in the barrier to entry, and couple it with the massive adjustments necessary being a foreign player coming to player professional sports in a new country. In many ways, Tony was a trailblazer. A case study. He fell into the new tenure of Gregg Popovich, who had worked for the Spurs earlier in his career, left to become a coach with the Golden State Warriors, but returned in 1996 to accept the Head Coaching position. Tim Duncan, the first overall pick in 1997, was entering his 5th year with the Spurs and was out for blood. Truly the perfect storm was brewing. What could go wrong? More importantly, what could go right.

"Thanks to Pop and the Spurs I became the youngest European Point Guard to start in the NBA, so that's pretty cool." 

I told Tony he broke my heart a few times in his career, the biggest blow coming when he kept my Lakers from potentially accomplishing a 4-Peat in 2002/2003. His response warmed my heart, "those were my favorite series in my entire career." Beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2003 Western Conference Championship brought Tony the first of his 4 NBA Championships. He is one of 44 players in the HISTORY OF THE NBA to win 4 or more Championships. Let that sink in. As of February 2022, 4706 players had suited up for at least one NBA game. Talk about rare air - he's in the .009 percentile.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Gregg Popovich, famously, is wine-obsessed. Their Player-Coach relationship was cemented by a mutual love of wine: "Coming into the NBA at 19 years old, it was a great way for me to bond with Pop. Having wine after the games, we'd always go to great restaurants. The US has really improved its restaurants he last 25 years. Eating well, having great wine, it's been nice to see the process. Wine came a little late, especially in the NBA. Now you have guys enjoying their wine and posting it on social media. Me, I was already like that back then with Pop! After a tough loss we would always have a good bottle. We'd go to a city be searching to make sure we can enjoy that bottle. It was nice to have a relationship like that, especially coming from Europe." To complete the emotional rollercoaster of a 17 year playing-relationship together, where they accomplished so much on (and off) the court, Gregg Popovich is also being inducted into the Hall Of Fame on Saturday, August 12th alongside Tony.

Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne<p>Courtesy of Château La Mascaronne</p>
Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne

Courtesy of Château La Mascaronne

Tony is a 6-time NBA All-Star...4-time NBA Champion with a Finals MVP in 2007 to his name...His Number 9 was retired by the Spurs...So I had to ask, at what point in your career, if ever, did you allow your mind to wonder...'Will I be a Hall Of Famer?' 

"The first time that it really crossed my mind and people were really talking about it was in 2014 when we won our 4th Championship. People were basically saying 'You're going to be a Hall Of Famer! Not a lot of people won 4 Championships in their Career!' Then when you add the MVP, how I was the first European to win MVP of the Finals, then it crossed my mind for the first time. When I started my career, I just wanted to have a good career in the NBA. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be a Four Times Champion, and the Hall Of Fame..for me, it's something that didn't exist. It's not something that's for players like me, you know?" 

Turns out we didn't know. Turns out he accomplished an incredible resumé of basketball achievements, against all odds.

Outside of Pop, Parker reflected that the arrival of Boris Diaw in 2012, a fellow Frenchman from Bordeaux area, not only brought the organization back to its Championship ways but also stepped up the wine game. "The number one teammate that I had [into wine] was Boris Diaw, you know. When we signed Boris in 2012, it was perfect because he's from Bordeaux and he loves wine! You know when I arrived over the years what we created was I would do a dinner at my house once a month. and invite one of the best Castles (one of the best vineyards) to educate us on the property and how they make the wine. Then the next day we'll invite them to a Spurs game! Pop would come sometimes, Boris came a lot. And for me it was a great way to develop relationships with all those Castles, to work on my allocation to make sure I have good bottles. Then in the summer I would go to Bordeaux, and go to the road to the vineyards and visit all the families. They are super passionate and unbelieveable. They love what they do and it was very inspiring for me. I always knew that one day I would invest in a vineyard, in a wine. I love the whole process. But I didn't want to do it while I was playing. I wanted it to be legit. I wanted people, especially coming from France, where people are going to like what we are doing. I was very blessed to make an association with Michel Reybier."

Now 5 years into post-NBA life, Tony's sights are set on generational investments within the wine world. The relationship with Michel Reybier, Billionaire Hotelier and Owner of Second Growth château Cos d'Estournel is proving to inspire the next big play in Parker's life. Tony has invested with Reybier in Château La Mascaronne in Provence and Champagne Jeeper, and ventured on his own to purchase Château Saint Laurent in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The sky is truly the limit, and Tony sees these moves as not only an extension of his passion, but also investments he leaves to his kids so they can pass them down generation after generation.

Michel Reybier & Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne<p>📸 by Sebastien Clavel</p>
Michel Reybier & Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne

📸 by Sebastien Clavel

Leading up to his HOF Induction, Tony says he's become very nostalgic, especially watching all the old games with his family. His eyes lit up when he mentioned that his family proposed to watch one vintage NBA Finals game per day leading up to the Induction, to get back into it and remember all the details. "Like this morning we watched Game 3 of the 2003 NBA Finals, I was like wow that was 20 years ago!" On the fly it inspired me to ask him, do you recognize that 20 year-older version of you? Do you see the same person? 

"It's different. First of all I take a lot of pride to remember all of my plays and all of my games. But it's like, man, there's some stuff I didn't remember! I guess I'm getting old. But watching it is like, I can see that I was very fearless and I wanted to show that in Europe we can play basketball. I wanted to show the Americans, and earn their respect. I can see all of that, especially the games that were early in my career."

Pride is something I learned Tony Parker is full of. He represented the San Antonio Spurs for 17 seasons, but every second he was representing France. Every time he put on the jersey, every time he gave an interview, every time he opened a bottle of wine. I asked him what it meant to be the first French national to enter the NBA Hall Of Fame.

"Huge honor. Huge honor. It's hard to explain. You know, when I became the first French Champion, first French All-Star, MVP of the Finals, every time you try to accomplish something. I always try to be a good ambassador for French basketball. That's the way I looked at it. I was a huge Michael Jordan fan, wearing his jersey, so when I first arrived in San Antonio and started having success - you'd see every kid in France wearing the Number 9 Spurs, it meant in my heart I couldn't disappoint them. I had a responsibility. So, to become the first French guy in the Hall Of Fame, it's hard to imagine but it's something now I can share with my kids."

On Saturday, August 12th Tony will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He will give his Induction Speech, there will be a party, and there will be wine opened. I had to find out what he planned to open. "What are you gonna pop?"

"I think I will drink a bottle of Cos d'Estournel. I am trying to think of all my favorite bottles of Bordeaux, because if i was stuck on an Island and had to choose a country or region, I will go with Bordeaux. So it will be a bottle of Cos. A bottle of [Château] Angelus, a bottle of [Château] Petrus, [Château] Cheval Blanc. Those are my top that I will take. I'm taking all the years we won a Championship! So '03, '05, '07, '14."

I know Pop will be tableside when those bottled are popped. I'll be opening my bottle of Champagne Jeeper Blanc de Blancs in honor of Tony's HOF Induction, toasting his incredible NBA career with a bottle of wine he invested in for his kid's kids' kids.

View the original article to see embedded media.