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Parker announces retirement after 18 seasons in NBA

Former San Antonio Spurs legend and Finals MVP winner Tony Parker is apparently calling it a career after 18 seasons.

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Parker made his announcement in San Antonio, telling Spears: “I’m going to retire. I decided that I’m not going to play basketball anymore.

“A lot of different stuff ultimately led me to this decision,” Parker said, per The Undefeated. “But, at the end of the day, I was like, if I can’t be Tony Parker anymore and I can’t play for a championship, I don’t want to play basketball anymore.”

Via Twitter, Parker posted the following: “It’s with a lot of emotion that I retire from basketball, it was an incredible journey! Even in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would live all those unbelievable moments with the NBA and the French National Team. Thank you for everything!”

Parker said he plans to live in San Antonio after retirement but will spend time in France as the owner and president of ASVEL, a French pro men’s and women’s basketball team, The Undefeated reports.

Selected 28th overall by the Spurs in the 2001 Draft, Parker had said he hoped to play 20 seasons in the NBA. A six-time All-Star, Parker was named to the All-NBA second team three times in his career and was Finals MVP in 2007. He spent the 2018-19 campaign with the Charlotte Hornets, who signed him after the Spurs opted not to bring him back as a free agent last summer. Parker reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Hornets and came off the bench in each of his 56 games last season.

Parker stated 1,151 games regular season games and averaged 15.5 points and 5.6 assists per game. He also played in 226 playoffs games, averaging 17.9 points and 5.1 assists per game.

“It has been a blessing to be with him since he was 19 years old,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said on a USA Basketball conference call Monday. “I have watched him develop as a player and human being and as a business man.”

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak congratulated Parker on a “remarkable career” in a release.

“His impact on the game of basketball and the path he laid out for international stars have no equal,” Kupchak said. “I’m grateful for the year he spent with us here in Charlotte and we wish him the best as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.”

Hornets coach James Borrego said Parker is a Hall of Famer.

“I have never known the NBA without Tony as a part of it and I’ll truly miss him,” Borrego said. “Tony’s leadership, his presence and his dedication to winning made an impact on shaping me and I’ll always be appreciative of him. I know our organization in Charlotte is grateful for what he brought to us in our year together. I wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to retirement.”

Parker told The Undefeated he enjoyed playing for the Hornets, but without a championship run on the horizon, it became hard to want to keep going.

“For 17 years, every year that I started with the Spurs, I really thought that we had a good chance to win the championship. And so it was very weird to arrive to a team and you’re like, ‘There is no way we’re going to win the championship.’ And even if I had a great time — and the Charlotte players, they were great with me and they were great guys — at the end of the day I play basketball to win something, and it’s been like that with the [French] national team when we try to compete for a gold medal or with the Spurs to win a championship.

And if I don’t play for a championship, I feel like, why are we playing? And so that’s why it was very different for me mentally to focus and get motivated to play a game that I love, because I want to win something.”

He averaged 9.5 ppg on 46 percent shooting and 3.7 assists per game. Parker moved up to 17th place on the NBA’s all-time assists leaderboard (7,036) and trails only Steve Nash for most by an international player. Only Dirk Nowitzki and former teammate Tim Duncan have played more regular season games amongst non-US-born players than Parker (1,254).

In his final season with the Spurs, Parker played 55 games averaged 7.7 points and 3.5 assists. During his career, the six-time All-Star averaged 15.8 points and 5.7 assists. He was part of 137 playoff wins with Popovich, the second most by any coach and player in NBA history. Popovich and Spurs star Tim Duncan combined for 157 playoff wins.

Parker was part of the Spurs’ Big Three with Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but Parker’s news means all three are now retired. Together, they combined to win four NBA championships and reach five NBA Finals.

Parker told The Undefeated that the recent retirements of his former Big Three compatriots did not factor greatly into his own decision.

“It had a little impact, but at the same time, I still, like I told you in many interviews, I thought I was going to play my 20 seasons with the Spurs,” Parker said. “But talking with Timmy and talking with Manu, that helped a little bit, like, ‘OK, I’m ready for this. Timmy and Manu are not playing, it’s not the same.’ ”

Parker has also appeared in 17 consecutive postseasons; only Karl Malone and John Stockton’s run of 19 straight playoff trips are longer. The Hornets missed the playoffs last season, ending his run of playoff showings.

Overall, Parker said he has no regrets in signing with the Hornets and playing for team owner Michael Jordan.

“It was a great experience. I met some great people, and I really appreciate Michael giving me the opportunity and [general manager] Mitch Kupchak and JB [coach James Borrego],” Parker said, via The Undefeated. “It was a great, great time. The guys were great. So no, I don’t regret anything because I really wanted to play and I really wanted to show that I can still play. I had a good season. I was healthy. I don’t regret anything.

And it’s funny, in a way, I feel like the fact that I went to Charlotte, I feel like in San Antonio, they love me more.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.