Nicolas Batum interview - Feb. 17th

pdf link - the article is on page 12.  As far as I know, l'Equipe haven't put the full interview up on their website yet.



Nicolas Batum, the Blazer wing, started playing again on January 25th, with a more important attacking role.  At Cowboys Stadium, Nicolas Batum got an eyeful, as did everyone.  Just back on the court three weeks ago after an operation on his right shoulder and a half a season missed, the French wing took advantage of this break to evaluate his comeback, touching on his objectives for the Spring and his future with "Les Bleus."

You have just played ten games after three months out.  How are you doing?
I think that I'm at 85% right now, but it feels good to be back.  I was on the bench for 45 games, that's a lot.  I'm really happy to be back.

So was it the right decision to have the surgery?
The operation came naturally.  As soon as July we knew that it was a fracture.  It hurt, but I kept on playing.  I played in the Euros as well as training camp.  But you get beat up at camp.  Guys are playing for their contracts.  My shoulder got hit many times and the last shot I took from Greg Oden, two days before the start of the season, really hurt me.  That's when I knew that it was best to get it operated on.

With hindsight, do you regret playing in the Euros with France under such conditions?
No, I don't regret it at all.  The Euros made me more mature, bolder.  In the Euro League, with Le Mans, I was more subdued.  With France, I also wanted to stay to the side.  Playing with Tony (Parker), Boris (Diaw), Ronny (Turiaf), Flo (Pietrus) and having responsibilities made a mark on people here.  In the game against Italy, Tony wasn't playing, but all the others were and I was the one with the ball at the end.

How do you explain Portland letting you play in the Euros?
I don't know.  There was a one in a hundred chance of them letting me go there.  But still, I'd had the fracture since March.  And between March and July, I missed two games because of a sprained ankle!

So it would have been uncalled for if Portland made you miss the Euros when they hadn't done anything for your shoulder for a month and a half?
Yeah, I think so.  I just kept on playing without complaining.  It hurt but it wasn't unbearable, I managed to play.

As of today, is your shoulder fully recovered?
There's still a bit of soreness, but I've had two, three falls and it's fine, even if it hurt a bit against Utah.

Have you picked up your habits in the team again?
Not starting is helping me a bit.  In the second team, I have more offensive responsibilities than last year when I was starting.  Since I've been back, I've been on the court in money time.

What are your goals for the second part of the season?
I want to show that it isn't a lost season.  I'm only going to play 35 games but I want to play them well.  I'm no longer a rookie.  Now, I'm in the League, I want to do something here.

Collectively, will Portland have to battle to make the playoffs?
With all the injuries that we've had, we were almost forgotten this season when in pre-season, we were targeting the NBA finals!  But the team keeps on playing, we've had some big wins.  We beat Dallas twice, also San Antonio and the Lakers.  We're eighth, but Denver, in second place, is only four games ahead.  We're still in the running.

Let's talk about the French team.  Will you be at the World Championships in Turkey this summer?
I want to go, but I can't talk about it.  Portland knows what I think.

And Portland isn't inclined to let you go?
Given what's happened this year, where everyone is gone down one by one, let's just say that they're cautious.  Which is almost normal.

Could Portland give you the veto?
They could make me understand very clearly that, if I want to play next season, it would be best that I don't go.  Last year, I played 79 games, I did my job, they had no reason to keep me out.  Now, having already missed 45 games...

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