Batum interview

la révélation Batum

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Portland - He's the French revelation of the beginning of the NBA season.  Starter in the big league after only 4 games, like Parker in his time, the rookie Nicolas Batum has taken his position in the starting five of Portland, a franchise with true ambition.

At only 19 years of age, the young guard from Le Mans knows that he's benefitting from some favorable circumstances.  The Frenchmen is taking advantage to build up his confidence, without getting ahead of himself.

AP: An NBA rookie, long promised to be playing in the minor league, you're now a starter in Portland.  What happened?

Nicolas Batum: Let's say that I had the opportunity to quickly obtain more playing time the expected thanks to the injury to my teammate Martell Webster.  I'm trying to take advantage, and, for the moment, it's going rather well.  In addition, nobody wants to play in the developmental league (D League).  So I arrived in the US very early, as soon as mid-August, to work five or six hours a day.  Voilà.

AP: Only 4 years after the European youth championship, your route all the same isn't so ordinary?

NB: It's gone quickly! But, in fact, everything sped up for me after the Hoop Summit in 2007.  The day before the game, I wasn't even thinking about the NBA, and the next thing you know, after, people in my entourage started talking about the draft, about the possibility of becoming a millionaire before 20 years old.  It changes your life, that's clear...

AP: Do you think now that you will be able to keep your place with the Blazers?

NB: Let's wait a bit, because, for the moment, I know very well that I'm there by default even if I get along well with the coach.  We'll see how the situation evolves when Webster comes back to his best.  It's up to me to keep the same level of play to truly win my place.

AP: What are Portland's ambitions this season?

NB: We have a young team and there are a lot of expectations around us, to the point where some already see us as title candidates.  But you can't go too quickly.  The ring, maybe we can think about it in 2 or 3 years, if the team stays in the same state.  For this year, the goal is to make the playoffs.  Which, in the Western conference, isn't so easy.

AP: One senses that you're more mature when, last season in Le Mans, you're mental fragility was sometimes stigmatized.  True?

NB: It's true but these last months, especially before the draft, have really served me well.  I was afraid when the first doctor thought to have detected heart problems with me.  The whole story got blown up out of proportion and strengthened me.  Now, I approach games toughly, I look for contact.  I have the feeling that I've mentally grown.


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