A young Elie Okobo did not watch Saturday-morning cartoons before heading to his basketball games. He watched replays of San Antonio Spurs games broadcast from thousands of miles away, dazzled by fellow Frenchman and point guard Tony Parker. Less than two weeks ago, Okobo sat down at swanky Scottsdale seafood restaurant Ocean 44 to share a postgame dinner with Parker. The two had just guarded each other in Charlotte’s win at Phoenix. Parker’s teammate, Nic Batum, and former Suns and Spurs player Boris Diaw joined them. The meal epitomized the bond NBA players from France share, even when they are opponents on the floor or their playing careers have concluded.
Okobo, aka “Young Frenchie,” is the latest to join that club, already contributing to the Suns as a rookie and occasionally matching up against his childhood idol. “I want to be this guy one day, the guy that the (French) kids look up to,” Okobo said. “I think I’m on my way. I gotta keep working.”