Lang Whitaker of Slam Online has a lengthy magazine feature on Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum's all-around game.
It helped his hoops education that Batum has basketball in his blood, quite literally. His father, Richard, spent a decade playing professionally in France. When Nic was 2 years old, he was in the stands at one of his father's games when his dad suffered a ruptured aneurysm while on the court, killing him. Still, the tragedy didn't dissuade Nic from pursuing his own hoop dreams. "I always wanted to do that, to play basketball," he says. "All my life. I played basketball since I was 4 or 5 years old, so that was all I wanted to do, the only thing I wanted to do.
"I tried to watch the NBA, but the games were at 2 or 4 a.m., so sometimes I'd get up that early to watch the games. When the NBA Finals were on, I had school the next day, and my mom would not be too happy," he recalls with a laugh.
It is at this exact point in the Nic Batum continuum where the equation begins to take on some sort of shape and form, and where it begins to make more sense than it does if considered without proper circumstance. Looking at the collection of basketball tools available to Batum, expecting him to be a specialist-to become a scorer like Durant or a rebounder like Varejao-was never of interest to Batum. Forget being like Mike. "I always liked Chicago, and Scottie Pippen was my favorite player," Batum says. "When he played for the Bulls, then when he went to Houston and then Portland, he was always my favorite player. Whichever team he was playing for, that was my favorite team. I always liked that he played on both ends. He wanted to play defense, He would have 13 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks. He could do everything, and that's what I try to do, even now."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter