Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has picked Tony Parker as a potential heir to the throne, suggesting the San Antonio Spurs icon has all the “professional and human qualities” for the job.
Parker—who retired from professional basketball in 2019—was born in Belgium but raised in France. The 37-year-old also represented ASVEL—the Lyon-based club in which he owns a majority stake—and Paris Basket Racing in the LNB Pro A, the top tier of French basketball.
Aulas, 71, has owned Ligue 1 outfit Lyon since 1987 and is one of the longest-serving presidents in football. He told L’Equipe (via Get French Football News) that while they’re yet to properly agree a succession plan, Parker ticks all the right boxes to take over when he leaves:
“I get the feeling that he has the characteristics for it. On top of the professional and human qualities, I have great affection for him and everything that he represents. I am not saying it because I have this idea in the back of my mind or because I have spoken about it with Tony. No decision has been taken, neither on his side, nor on mine, nor on the side of the board.”
Four-time NBA Finals champion Parker spent a total 17 years with the Spurs, leaving the franchise in 2018 before retiring one year later with the Charlotte Hornets. He first bought a small stake in ASVEL in 2009 but increased that percentage to become a majority shareholder in 2014.
Lyon’s women’s team have won a record six UEFA Women’s Champions League titles. It was confirmed in late 2019 that OL Groupe—the company that owns both male and female clubs—had purchased NSWL outfit the Seattle Reign, since renamed OL Reign.
Aulas has spoken of the desire to grow the American side of their ventures, and Parker’s promotion to the figurehead role could be a major benefit in that department.