In an exclusive interview with French media BasketSession.com, Nicolas Batum discussed for the first time the reasons that lead him to sign with SLUC Nancy, the French team with which he’ll play next season as long as the lockout prevents him form playing in the NBA.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Why chose Nancy specifically?
“I wanted to be sure to play in the Euroleague. I wanted to come back to France so that my family could see me play. I had the chance to come back here and to play in the Euroleague at the same time so Nancy was a natural choice for me. […] Nancy has a very nice legacy. It’s been France’s most consistent team those last 6 to 7 years, since coach Monschau came aboard. They’ve been to the finals 5 times in 7 years and they won 2 of the last 4 championships. This team is proven.”
How did it happen?
“Actually, I made the first move. After Nancy won the last French championship, I sent a message to my agent (Bouna N’Diaye) that said “It could be nice to play for Nancy…” I was thinking about that even before the final, when I had started wondering where I could play next season. Bouna asked them if they would be interested and they were. All we had to do then was to reach an agreement.”
About his future role in the team:
“Me and coach Monschau have connected really good and I already knew Nancy’s personnel. I had played against his team many times when I was with Le Mans. I know the players that he’s had at my position. When I see Tariq Kirksay, Ricardo Greer or Tremmell Darden all those forwards have finished first or second in the MVP race. He’s really good at helping the forwards take their game to the next level. It should be interesting to play for someone like that. […] He told me that, like all the players he’s had before me at my position, I would have the ball a lot. I mostly played defense those last years but I’ll try to bring more to the table on the offensive end and to be as versatile as possible.”
About his reasons for not choosing ASVEL, Tony Parker’s team:
“The discussions with ASVEL were interesting but I had to make a choice and I chose Nancy because of the Euroleague. Tony respects my decision. It is just business. He’s intelligent and he knows how it works so he understood. He’ll get over it and Villeurbanne too, I’m not to worried for them they’ll have a great team.”
About the other offers he’s received from other countries:
“I’ve had some propositions form Spain, Greece and Italy, but I wanted to play in France for family reasons. […] It wasn’t about the money! I’ve turned down more lucrative offers to play in France.”
About the fact that he’ll be a go to guy now:
“It should be a really interesting experience. It could help me get to the next level. I was already in that position with Le Mans but I was younger. I’ve been playing in the NBA for 3 years now and I’d like to see where I rank at the Euroleague level. I want to see if I’ve gotten better or not. It can help my game to grow because it is not the same role I have with Portland. It’s like when I play for the French national team. Nancy can help me get better and, at the same time, I’ll try to help Nancy with all the things I’ve learned those past three years. We want to get to the Top 16 of the Euroleague and have a great season in the French league. But my main goal is to reach the Top 16. […] I’m not here on vacations or just to stay in shape, I’m a ball player first and foremost. Since I can’t play in the NBA I want to play in the best league there is, and that’s the Euroleague.”