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Tony Parker earns minimum wage in Europe for a good reason

Tony Parker has taken a minimum wage job in France but he says it's a strategic move.

By JOHN LEICESTERAssociated Press / October 7, 2011

NBA basketball player San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker (l.) poses with his Lyon-Villeurbanne jersey next to Gilles Moretton, president of the Association Sportive Villeurbanne Eveil Lyonnais (ASVEL) in Paris, Thursday. Parker will play with French club ASVEL during the NBA lockout.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

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Tony Parker packed his bags for three months — just in case the NBA lockout lasts that long.

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Farewell, San Antonio, and hello Villeurbanne. The Spurs star will play for peanuts in France and he's dipped into his own, admittedly deep, pockets to pay for his own insurance, too.

So why bother? Because Parker is taking a long view. Having worked alongside the likes of coach Gregg Popovich at the Spurs, Parker plans a management role for himself, too, in his post-NBA future. Boss Parker. Has a good ring to it.

Rather than fritter away the next few weeks or months — however long the NBA labor dispute lasts — Parkerwill invest the time in the French club he partly owns, Asvel, based in Villeurbanne in the city of Lyon, one of the food capitals of the world.

He will play for minimum wage: €1,500 ($2,000 a month). But he'll also get valuable hands-on front-office experience working alongside club president Gilles Moretton. Asked if this was something of a business internship for him, Parker said: "Exactly, exactly."

"I always said that after my career I wanted to be the president of a club and manage a club," Parker said at a news conference at a luxury Paris hotel on Thursday. "With Gilles, I have the perfect president to learn from. He can train me so that I am ready in 10 years when I retire.

"I'm learning marketing, how to speak to sponsors, how to push projects forward and all that. I want to learn."

Parker bought shares in the 17-time French champions in 2009, some three years after he, Tim Duncan and other Spurs players played a preseason game at Asvel's 5,600-seat arena, the Astroballe, and routed the French club 115-90. After the first two years learning the ropes, Parker became general manager of basketball operations at the club this June, giving him a large say over player hires, contract negotiations and dealings with agents.

Parker said he wants to grow Asvel into "one of the biggest clubs in Europe" and build an academy there for young players, too, next to its planned new arena.

In sneakers and ripped jeans, Parker didn't look like a typical suit but he does talk the talk.

"First meeting, Monday, 8:30," he said, looking ahead to next week. Then, he joked: "We are going to have to change the hours."

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