Over the past month, we talked about a hypothetical NBA European Division. Here are the cities and links to the city profiles:
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Berlin, Germany
- London, United Kingdom
- Madrid, Spain
- Milan, Italy
- Paris, France
This week, we’ll finish the division in Paris.
Some things on Paris
Paris the largest city in France. Its urban area is the largest in the European Union while its metro area is the second largest until London and the UK are no longer in the EU. If there’s one thing in Paris that I like the most, it’s the museums. The Louvre, Musée National d’Art Moderne, and Musée d’Orsay are all in town. And if you haven’t seen it yet, the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre, and there is a one-way line to see the masterpiece.
Like Milan, France is a fashion capital of the world. There’s a fashion week in late September which is well attended by designers, models, and writers from all over the world. And with that, many luxury fashion brands like Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and others are headquartered here.
Finally, Paris is the home of a treaty of the same name that gave the United States universally recognized independence back in 1783. So Philadelphia may have been the home of the Declaration of Independence, but the the British didn’t view the Americans as “truly independent” until they signed that treaty.
Does the NBA invest in France?
Yes. The NBA has French language content and hosted preseason games in France. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is open to hosting a regular season here sometime in the near future. And if an NBA All-Star Game is in Europe, don’t be surprised to see it here at the AccorHotels Arena, which holds over 20,000 people.
Who’s the best NBA player from France?
The easy answer is Spurs guard Tony Parker. He was the 2009 NBA Finals MVP, a six-time All-Star and made three consecutive All-NBA teams from 2011-12 through 2013-14. Parker also led the French national team to a gold medal in EuroBasket 2013. He’s still one of the best point guards in the NBA right now.
You probably are aware that Parker’s father, Tony Parker Sr., was an American professional basketball player in Europe and that Parker himself was born in Brugge*, West Flanders, Belgium. Why is Parker playing for France when his father is American, and his mother, Pamela Firestone is Dutch while he is Belgian-born?
In short, Parker Sr. played professional basketball in a number of European countries after his college career at Loyola Chicago. He first moved to the Netherlands, where he played in Amsterdam, met, and married Firestone. Parker Sr. also plyed in Brugge which explains why Parker is a Belgian-born Dutch American, at least when he was born.
Though it’s implied that Parker could have claimed Belgian citizenship, the country does not have birthright citizenship. Therefore, I don’t think he could be Belgian, unless his mother claims Belgian citizenship.
Anyway, Parker Sr. played in Belgium around the time Tony was born. Right after his birth, his father moved the family to France where he lived as a child despite his dual Dutch American nationality. When he was a teenager, Parker decided to become a French citizen and that’s why he plays for France today instead of the American or Dutch teams.
* Brugge is better known as Bruges, its French name. Just like the Ieper vs. Ypres thing.
Okay, who else is from France?
A range of NBA starters and role players call France home. Ian Mahinmi is from Rouen, which is in Normandy, the northern part of the country. Other notable starters like Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Nicolas Batum are also from here. And we didn’t get to Boris Diaw and former Wizards player Kevin Serpahin yet. 10 French players were on NBA opening day rosters in 2015-16, more than every other country except Canada.
Would NBA players want to be here?
There are many French and French-speaking NBA players in the NBA. Paris is as cosmopolitan and world class of a city as any out there, so I think it will be a destination city.
Even though France is one of the top producers of NBA talent, most players on a Paris NBA team would probably be Americans and don’t speak much French. The language barrier is something that may be make some anxious, but think about it this way. Many international basketball players come to America or Canada speaking limited English, yet they still do it. Now the situation is reversed, but I think players should be fine.
What soccer teams are in town?
Paris Saint-Germain or PSG is the top local team here. They play in Ligue 1, the premier division of French soccer. PSG will obviously be the number one competitor to a basketball team for eyeballs, but given Paris’ size and strength as a basketball world power, there should still be plenty of support for other teams.
Paris is one of Europe’s top tourist cities and is a world-class destination. France also has developed many NBA players and should be a great place to showcase the sport on a European stage.