Nicolas Batum: "A Lot Of People Thanked Me" For Gruesome Groin Shot On Juan Carlos Navarro

NBC

Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum explains his infamous groin shot to Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum made international headlines when he delivered a gruesome groin punch to Juan Carlos Navarro during a quarterfinals match between France and Spain at the 2012 London Olympics.

The low blow drew criticism from many corners, particularly because of his huge wind-up and his direct hit. During an exchange with Blazersedge at Monday's media day, Batum answered a series of questions about the incident, attemping to set the record straight.

The strongest assertion: Batum said that he has received gratitude and support from around the globe, even from members of the basketball community.

"I won't say any names but Spanish people and Spanish media were truly mad at me on Twitter," Batum acknowledged. "I got some bad things, trust me. [But] people all around the world, on Twitter, or media, or people, even coaches and players from the other teams, thanked me."

Why? For upholding the Olympics spirit? For getting in a good lick on Navarro? Because Spain had it coming?

"I won't say what they told me, but trust me a lot of people thanked me," he repeated. "I won't say, but they just thanked me. Trust me, a lot, a lot of people. Not especially from France but from everywhere. I won't say that's good. I'm not happy or glad about it."

Another key clarification: Batum claimed that he was not specifically aiming for Navarro's privates.

"Of course, you have to understand, I didn't want to punch him here," he said. "I'm not like that. I'm not like that, come on. I tried to get his arm. I was looking for his arm, not his..."

In other interviews since the incident, Batum said he "lost it" and was upset at Spain for allegedly tanking in their final group game to set up the quarterfinal match-up with France and avoid the USA's side of the knockout bracket. He also asserted that Spanish players had been flopping during the game. He reiterated that on Monday.

"I can't go back," he said. "What I was mad about is what I showed, about the game, about France, about myself, especially to young kids. That's not me. You know me. Sometimes I just lost it. I'm human. That game I was frustrated, mad, different reasons."

Asked whether the pressure of the moment was a contributing factor in him "losing it," Batum offered this explanation.

"What happened is, I lost it because I was mad because I wanted so bad to go to the finals," he said. "So bad. The situation with what they had done the game before against Brazil, a lot of things, flopping, I was mad. We're rivals now, Spain and France. That's not good what I've done, especially with young kids watching. I won't do it again."

With the incident now in the past, Batum told reporters he is able to laugh about it with Victor Claver, a member of the Spanish national team who also happens to be his teammate on the Blazers.

"The first time playing against him I was 13 or 14 years old," Batum said of Claver. "I've known him a long time. A good friend. Yeah we laugh about it. I talked to him. He said, 'yeah, I can understand.'"

Recently, Dave opined that Batum shouldn't be too quick to run away from his action, arguing that it was a flash of emotion that could be spun into a positive development. Batum seemed to offer a similar sentiment to reporters on Monday.

"I'm not the young guy, the rookie I used to be the last four years," he said. "Now, I'm a totally new guy. I might change, you could see it. What happened last game, I showed some emotion. Not to be shy. To be more vocal... I am [emotional]. You'll see more from me this year."

So you're going to go around swinging fists below belly buttons on the regular?

"I won't say I'll fight every game, don't say that," Batum clarified, laughing.

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