By Catherine Lagrange
LYON, France (Reuters) - Four-time NBA champion Tony Parker and current teammate Nicolas Batum said on Monday they bought two ski resorts in the southern French Alps as the former San Antonio Spurs point guard prepares the end of his U.S. career.
The two French players, together with former French female basketball-player Marie-Sophie Obama, bought a 76.9% stake in SEVLC, a local company that runs two ski resorts in Villard-de-Lans and Correncon-en-Vercors in the southern French Alps.
Parker, who played for 17 years for the National Basketball Association's Spurs, said he seized an opportunity. "The goal is to spend time here, to spend Christmas holidays here," he said at a press conference in Villard-de-Lans.
The 36-year-old Parker has made no secret that his departure from the San Antonio Spurs to the Charlotte Hornets this season was the final stage of his career, and the investment in the ski resorts is part of a move to prepare his retirement.
"When I'll retire this summer or the next, I'll have more time to see what we can do here," he told reporters.
The Belgium-born son of a U.S. professional basket player, Parker was raised in France and was drafted in 2001 by the Spurs, playing for them until 2018 and winning the NBA championship four times.
Parker ended his stint in San Antonio this season to join Batum in Charlotte.
Parker, who led the French national team in winning the European championship in 2013, invested part of his sports earnings in a French professional basketball team in Villeurbanne, near Lyon, in 2014.
Speaking of the ski resort investment, Parker said that "people from female basketball told me about this opportunity. I saw there it was possible to do something nice and I am always curious," he said.
"It's not like there is a ski resort on sale every day," he said. He declined to disclose the amount of the transaction, which took more than a year to negotiate.
Local authorities expect the fame of the resorts' new owners will make the place more popular and help bring more tourists.
Although Parker does not ski, since his professional contracts prevent him from practicing the sport to avoid injuries, he said his wife and children are keen skiers.
(Reporting Catherine Lagrange; Writing by Inti Landauro; Editing by Dan Grebler)