Charlotte Hornets stars Nicolas Batum, Willy Hernagomez and Cody Zeller have spoken about playing in the NBA Paris Game 2020 ahead of tickets going on sale this week.
Q: What was your reaction to the announcement that the Hornets would be playing in Paris?
NB: “I was very happy for the country first. I’ve played in Paris a couple of times, but an NBA game is special. It’s different. I’m thankful for the city, for the country to have two NBA teams to compete in Paris so the fans can really see that live. That’s good. The NBA is really big in France. They love basketball, so that’s good for them.”
Q: What kind of reaction are you expecting from the European fans?
NB: “Every time we play for the French team, we get a good reaction, the fans know the game. So being home, it’s going to be special. My whole family is going to be there, people from my home country are going to be there, so it will be a great moment.”
Q: How is it going to be going back over to Europe to play in the Paris game?
WH: “Personally, I think it’s great for me and Nico Batum, the European players to have the opportunity to play an NBA game in Europe. Hope it will be in Spain soon, but it will be great to see my family and friends, they want to fly there for sure. But for the NBA, I think it’s great to show the world how the NBA works and the game. I think they’re doing a pretty good job. So I can say please, NBA, make a game in Spain soon! That would be amazing. A big opportunity to see my family, it’s really hard for us. Especially Nico and his whole family, and me, being so far from our parents and my friends, so it’s a big chance to see them.”
Q: What are you looking forward to showing your teammates in Europe?
WH: “Every day, we will be talking about European things. I’ll try to invite all my teammates to come to Spain to see the different cities and see my culture. European cultures are very different from here. I think there’s going to be a big change for them to get to know the different country, culture, and try to learn both. It’s great.”
Q: What would you say to fans to come out to the game?
WH: “I think it’s a big chance for fans to see in person an NBA game, try to have fun. They will see how hard we practice and how close we are as players to the fans. I think maybe we are the best league, the NBA, to be that close with the fans. And just to have fun, for them and for us. It will be a fun week. Hopefully we can get the win too.”
Q: How excited are you play a regular season game in Paris in January?
CZ: “It’s exciting. It’ll be fun to see the reception Nic (Batum) gets obviously. A few years ago, we had Jeremy Lamb go over to China, and to see him back in China was pretty cool. I think it will be the same reception for Nic. Hopefully Tony (Parker) can make an appearance. Then just for me personally, to go to Paris will be a fun trip. I took four years of French; I don’t know any French. My teacher used to give a question of the day, which she used to rattle off. And the only thing I knew was “j’aime le basket,” I love basketball. She’d ask what’s the weather like outside, I’d be like “j’aime le basket.”
Verified Fans can purchase tickets for the NBA Paris Game 2020 presented by beIN SPORTS via presale at 11am CET on Wednesday Oct. 23. Tickets will go on public sale at 11am CET on Friday Oct. 25. For more information, please visit: NBAEvents.com/ParisGame