Tony Parker is officially the final San Antonio Spurs player to wear a No. 9 jersey.
The 37-year-old basketball player — who announced his retirement in June — was given one of the highest honors in sports on Monday night: the retirement of his jersey.
Parker celebrated the special evening surrounded by family, friends and many of his former teammates as they honored the athlete with speeches and watched his jersey be uncovered in the rafters.
The NBA player spent 17 seasons with the Spurs, beginning in 2001 when he was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, CBS Sports reported.
During his time on the Spurs, he made the All-Star team six times and is the team’s all-time leader in assists, according to the outlet.
There to commemorate the special occasion was Parker’s wife, French journalist Axelle Francine, and his two children, Liam, 3, and Josh, 5.
Throughout the evening, several of Parker’s teammates and close friends shared kind words about the athlete, including his longtime coach, Gregg Popovich.
“Tony Parker was someone that cared about his teammates, he cared about his community, he cared about basketball, his friends, and now his wonderful, beautiful family,” he said.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for our organization. I love you,” he added before hugging Parker.
Among his teammates to speak was Manu Ginobili, who shared that he and Parker had played together for 15 years, and over 1,000 games.
“It’s been a true pleasure man, I wish you all the best in your post-career. Thank you for everything,” he said.
Parker’s other former teammates at the ceremony included Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Bruce Bowen, Sean Elliott, and Malik Rose among others.
Parker confirmed his decision to retire to ESPN’s The Undefeated in an article published on June 10, also tweeting, “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!”
He shared that a “lot of different stuff ultimately led me to this decision.”
He told The Undefeated, “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.”
The athlete will continue to live in San Antonio he said, but will also spend time in France, where he owns and serves as president of ASVEL — a professional men’s and women’s basketball club.
Additionally, he told The Undefeated, he’ll open an international school in Lyon, France, called the Tony Parker Adequat Academy.
Asked what he’ll miss the most about professional basketball, Parker stated, simply, “Winning.”
“It never gets old, and so that’s why it was nice to win with my women’s team, because winning championships is hard to explain to somebody how you feel,” shared Parker. “As a player, it was great to win championship, and now as an owner, when you build from scratch everything, I’m happier for them. It’s priceless to see their faces. But it never gets old. Winning championships never gets old.”
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