12/01/2006 at 06:00 PM EST
"I am so happy," Tony Parker, who got engaged
to girlfriend Eva Longoria earlier this week, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "I've wanted to do this for some time."
In a one-on-one interview after practicing with San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Parker said: "Our families are so happy. This is a good time."
The usually media shy basketball star smiled and laughed as he talked about his plans to be married next summer in France.
"Eva really wanted to get married in France," says Parker. "It's a beautiful country, a country of love and a place that is very special for us. It was important to her that we get married there."
Parker says that he asked permission from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to fly to California to propose to Longoria after the Spurs played the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night.
"He was really great about letting me go," says Parker. "He gives me relationship advice and we talk about things. Last year, he let me go to the SAG awards to be with Eva and this year, he let me go for the proposal."
Parker says that Longoria was surprised to see him, because she thought he was traveling back home with the team. "We like to surprise each other and Eva's better at it than I am – showing up when I don't know she's coming to visit," Parker says. "I wanted the proposal to be very special, and a surprise for her."