Nicolas Batum Sees Something Else
By caseyholdahl Posted in: NicolasBatum
Sometimes, when talking to Nicolas Batum, minor things can get lost in translation. While Batum is more articulate, even in English, than the majority of his peers in the NBA, from time to time you can tell he's using a phrase that, when directly translated, doesn't convey precisely the idea he's trying to get across.
But from time to time those slightly misappropriated phrases, ironically enough, more accurately portray the crux of what he's trying to convey better than a contextually perfect translation. That was the case when I recently asked Batum what he did this summer after France was eliminated from the Olympics.
"I just left London like the next day, went back to my house and got some rest, saw my family and try to see something else," said Batum. "I went on vacation to Greece, spent ten days in Greece, refreshed my mind, see something else."
See something else. While I assume that's not exactly what Nic was trying to say, it perfectly describes what he needed to do after an eventful summer that unfortunately concluded with Batum committing a now infamous foul on Juan Carlos Navarro at the end of France's 66-59 loss to Spain in the men's basketball quarterfinals at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
"What I'm mad about is what I showed to people about myself, what I showed about the game, about France, everything," said Batum. "I feel bad about it because that's not me. I'm human. I lost it. I just lost it.
"You don't want this type of action. I can't do it. You can't see that on the court. If the (International Basketball) Federation or the Olympics want to suspend me a couple games or fine me, I'm okay with that. I won't say anything."
Batum didn't like what he was seeing after enduring a lockout season, a prolonged contract negotiation and an earlier than expected exit from the Olympics. So for the first time in years, Batum forced himself to step away from the court in order to rest his body and gain some perspective.
"The (offseason) was really crazy for me. I needed rest. The first time, I think in six or seven years, that I got much time to rest before the season starts. I really needed it… Over the last 20 days I got some rest, but I know I have to be ready for this year so I came early this year because I want to be with the team. I want to show them that you can trust me."
When Batum says "you," he means everybody who roots for the Trail Blazers. Whether it's teammates or coaches or fans, Nic knows he's got a bit of reclamation work to do after a restricted free agency negotiation that played out more publicly than anyone probably would have liked. And while what happened this summer in Portland is substantively no different than what happens in various NBA cities nearly every offseason, Batum knows things play a bit differently in Rip City.
"This city and these fans know the game. They've had a lot of different, great players here," said Batum. "So with the contract I got, people expect huge things from me, and I understand that. So I don't want to disappoint them. I just want to bring it every night. I know my game. I know I can do something good. I know that. I know who I am and I know what I can do, but I have to work harder to be a great player.
"I want to be something in this league. That's why I'm here. I'm going to have some bad nights sometimes. Everyone has a bad night, but I'm going to try to have a lot of great and good nights. "
When Batum talks of being "something in this league," he discusses taking on the responsibility of being the second option when LaMarcus Aldridge is on the floor and knowing he needs to be the first option with Aldridge is out. He sets being an all-star as a realistic goal. And he talks about shedding his image as a talented but inconsistent performer. The franchise has made a commitment to Batum and he knows it's time to hold up his end of the bargain.
"I feel good because now I know the organization really trust me," said Batum. "Now I have to be there every night. There's going to be more pressure, of course. That's why I play this game and that's why I'm here."
With the old guard and old assumptions now gone, there's nothing standing between Batum becoming the player he thinks he can be. With a new GM, new coach and no fewer than eight new players, there's ample opportunity for a reboot, something Batum is looking forward to after a trying offseason.
"I think it's good to restart like this," said Batum. "With what happened the last four, five years, all the injuries, coaching situation, GM situation, everything got all drama. So now I think we're good. We have a new start, a fresh start. This city deserves a good team so we're going to try to show them they can trust us, they can come in every night to support us and try to make them proud."
That's the kind of something else everyone would like to see.