Summer in New York City is always a fun time, because we here at SLAM get random calls about NBA players in town to promote random products or take part in one-off events. Yesterday, my main man Tony Parker was in town to take part in an event for Gillette, which he explained quite neatly, as you’ll see shortly. So last night I sat down with Tony in a basement lounge at the Hudson Hotel before the big Gillette event.
As I sat down, I mentioned something about the NBA Finals…
TONY: Wait, what’s your team?
LANG: The Hawks. I’m from Atlanta originally.
So the Hawks are your team? Oh, so you don’t want Joe Johnson to leave.
(laughs) If he refused 15 million last year, I think somebody else might give him more.
I just think somebody will give it to him. I don’t know who, but somebody might.
So what’s up with you guys, the Spurs? Are you coming off the bench next year? Are you a bench player now?
(laughs) I’m a bench player now! (laughs) No, all my meetings went well, with Pop, with RC. Hopefully we’ll make some tweaks and get better and try to improve our team, because I think next year, realistically, is our last chance to try and make a run at a championship. Timmy’s getting older and he’s the anchor of our team, so I think realistically it’s our last chance with our core, with our team.
So you think Timmy’s got one year left in him?
No, he’s going to play two more years, but I think realistically, to go after a championship, I think it’s our last chance, like a realistic chance. Everybody says they want to win a championship, but it’s only 4 or 5 teams that can really win a championship, and I think next year is going to be our last chance.
I thought you guys had a good shot this year.
We were looking good, and then Phoenix just came out blazing on us.
Yeah, but then the Lakers handled them pretty well.
In basketball it all changes. We beat Phoenix for four or five years in the Playoffs, but at some point they had to beat us. Let’s give them credit, they played great against us.
Are you tired of people asking you what LeBron’s going to do?
(laughs) Yeah, people ask me. But no one knows.
I don’t think he knows.
Yeah, I agree with that. I don’t think he knows. I think he’s still weighing the pros and cons and figuring out what he’s going to do.
People have mentioned you being trade bait. So what about your future?
Me, hopefully I’ll be in San Antonio next year and then we’ll see what happens.
You said that really politely.
Yes, very politely (laughs).
Have you been watching the World Cup?
Of course, of course. I’ve been talking to Thierry (Henry) every day, getting my inside updates.
Are you going to come to a Red Bulls game?
For sure, for sure, I want to come see him play. I know they have a brand new stadium, and I heard it’s super nice.
It’s funny though because in America, a really nice soccer stadium is like 10,000 seats.
It’s going to be weird for Thierry, because he played in Barcelona, and there they have 100,000 seats.
So…why would somebody ask you, a guy who always has whiskers, to promote a razor?
Actually, I’m here to be a judge for the Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide Ultimate Summer Job Contest.
Wow, you nailed that. So what is it?
Basically, I’m going to judge some kids who have a chance to win $50,000 and they’re going to go across the states all summer and get people to try the new product. It’s pretty awesome because I never had a summer job like that. That’s pretty nice.
What was the best summer job you ever had?
Actually, I never really had one, because I’ve been playing with the National Team since I was 14, and I started playing professionally when I was 15. So summer we were playing, in the European Championships or the World Championships for the younger ages. So I never really had a summer job. But it’s pretty amazing to see these kids. I was watching the tapes this morning and they were funny, so I’m looking forward to seeing them live. You know, usually I’m the competitor, being judged, and now I’m the judge.
Are you going to be like Simon Cowell?
No, I’ll be more nice. (laughs) We’ll see, as long as they make me laugh, bring the passion for the product, have good teamwork, they’ll get my vote.
What’s the best job you’ve ever had besides basketball?
Besides basketball? Basketball. (laughs)
Have you ever had a job besides basketball?
Husband to Eva Longoria. (laughs)
That’s not a job, that’s something you do out of love.
That’s a full-time job, that’s a full-time job. (laughs)
So you’ve never had a job outside of basketball?
Actually, you know, when I was 12 and 13, I went to work at the market and sell cheese because my Mom was doing that. (laughs) I did it for like two weeks.
Were you good at it?
You just stand there, ask the lady what she wants, slice the cheese and give it to her. That was my job at the market. I did that for two weeks. It just came back to me.
You had blocked it out.
Right. (laughs) I didn’t want people to know it.
So what are you going to do the rest of the summer? You’re not playing for France in the World Championships, right?
No, not going to the World Championships. I’m just going to chill, and starting in July I’m going to get in shape, and really, really work hard, like I never did before, because the last six summers I was always playing with the National Team, so I never had a chance to work on my game. This summer I really want to work on my body and make sure I can play all 82 games and come out blazing next year. Plus it’s the last year on my contract, so I want to play good.
Who do you think has the best chance in the World Championships?
That’s a tough question because it depends who goes. Who’s going to go for the USA? Spain, Gasol said he’s not coming, and Manu’s not going to play for Argentina. So I don’t know…maybe Greece? It depends who Greece brings, you know? Our team’s going to be pretty talented, too, they’ll still have Boris and Rodrique Beaubois and Nicolas Batum. And I don’t know if Joakim’s going.
And how about a World Cup prediction?
Argentina or Spain, that’s my prediction.
They’re good, but…I think Argentina or Spain.