Member of the famous Zadar epic alongside Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, but also former teammate of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Stephen Curry, Ronny Turiaf has one of the finest records of French basketball with its title of champion in 2012 with the Heat, and its final lost in 2009 against the Celtics with the Lakers.
Removed from the courts since 2016, the former interior is currently in Greece, guest of the Antetokounbros Academy, and he answered many questions about his career, French basketball, and of course… Kobe Bryant. They were more than teammates, and the Frenchman remembers his first match alongside the late “Black Mamba”.
« My fondest memories of Kobe would be the times spent away from the basketball courts. We were able to share moments, enjoy cooking and dinners, have meaningful and deep conversations about life and also about what we were trying to do on the basketball court he recalls before discussing his debut in the NBA. ” I don’t know if we have enough time to talk about the impact Kobe had on me and also on a generation of basketball players. What I can tell you is that I remember perfectly, I think it was February 7 or 8, 2006. It was my first game against the Rockets. I remember feeling like I was too slow, it was going too fast. But what I remember the most is that after the game everyone jumped on me in the locker room. They threw Gatorade at me, they threw talcum powder at me… It was so exciting and they were like, ‘Welcome to the NBA, now you’re officially an NBA player. I remember the excitement of my teammates, my peers and myself. Six months earlier, I had to undergo open-heart surgery. I remember being so happy, so grateful and thinking that all the effort made was worth the experience. Even though it only lasted 52 seconds. »
“The journey is more important than the goal”
Heart surgery just after the Draft, Ronny Turiaf did not imagine coming back to the field so quickly, and even playing for the Lakers of the great era.
« I never really dreamed of becoming an NBA champion. Everything that happened to me in my basketball career was a bonus. I almost didn’t make it. My perspective may have shifted a bit when I went from not being able to play to being able to play again, losing an NBA Finals to being able to win an NBA Finals again. We often hear the same thing, people talk to you about the “journey” and they tell you that the journey is more important than the goal« .
Never medalist among seniors despite his 101 selections, he keeps an eye on French basketball, and in particular on its progress, and on the retraining of players of his generation. They were pioneers on the court, and they are also leading the way in the post-basketball world.
“There is a desire for us to give back”
« What I find super interesting is that I feel like France is at another crossroads in the growth, popularity and development of sport business” he concludes. “What the Federation and the league have done is a huge success. They tried to bring the practices together. You have professionals in Europe, abroad in the NBA, at different levels of success. We have Nando De Colo who is very successful at Fenerbahçe… I think the growth of France and French basketball can only improve. Because now, the generation of former players will become a key player in the world of basketball. As an investor, like Tony Parker with the Academy, or Boris Diaw who is involved in the national team. But it’s not just these two, there’s also Nicolas Batum who has invested with Tony. Ian Mahinmi got involved in the North, Nando too. We see that there is a desire for us to give back, and to share the experiences we have had around the world. French basketball is ready for a new generation of high-performance players”.