US PresswireIs playing at the Olympic Games the highlight of your career so far?

Nicolas Batum: Playing at the Olympics means playing in the biggest stage. Everybody is going to be watching you for 15 days. And you do it for your country!

Is it a very different kind of pressure to play with the National Team at the Olympics compared to playing in the NBA?

Nicolas Batum: You know in the NBA you're gonna play every season for sure while in the Olympics it can be the only time in my life that I play there. There's pressure because it's very special, but we've got to be ready to play.

How are you guys going to make up for the loss of Joakim Noah?

NB: We've got (RonnyTuriaf, (KevinSeraphin... He proved a lot this year. And Turiaf comes back with an NBA championship, so we're gonna make up [for Noah's loss]

Was it a little scary when there was this news that maybe Tony Parker was going to miss the tournament with the eye issue?

NB: No. No. I wasn't worried about Tony. I knew he was going to play. He's been waiting for this moment all his life so I wasn't scared about Tony.

Are you expecting to play a bigger role this year?

NB: Yeah. Each year my role is getting bigger and bigger. I gotta be better than last year. Tony is the first option but I wanna be No. 2 for this team and for that I gotta be better than last year.

In which areas do you think you have improved the most?

NB: Leadership. I gotta be a leader on the court. When Tony can't play, I gotta take the ball and make decisions.

Would you say you were a leader on your team in the NBA lately too?

NB: I tried. That's what everybody wants. I was a little bit of a leader and certainly was more of a leader than in the past. Hopefully I will be a better leader next year.

It's a little bit tougher maybe for a European guy?

NB: Yeah, it's tougher but you've got to do it. That's a good challenge, you know.

France has always been a very good defensive team, but sometimes you have struggled on the offensive end. You have good scorers but...

NB: We have good scorers but you have to work on the chemistry. We play together only two months a year. We know we are a very good defensive team and we have to work on our offense in every practice.

Is it a success if you go back home with the bronze medal?

NB: Yeah, hopefully we can make it to the final. It won't be easy. But if we come back to France with a bronze medal, it could be a good thing for us.

Is it a stressful situation for you to go through camp with France while you are still a free agent?

NB: That's not easy, thinking about both things... I think my contract will be done in a couple of days and then I can really focus on the National Team.

How would you compare going through the free agency situation to going through the draft process?

NB: The draft was crazy. Now you can almost choose where you want to go. Well, I'm a restricted free agent, but I can almost choose where I want to go. Draft was different, I was excited because at that time you can see how bad a team really wants you.

Is there a good part about being a free agent aside from signing a contract?

NB: Yeah, you can see where you are. I've spent four years in the NBA and didn't know where I was compared to the other guys. Now I can see how much teams really want me.

There was a report that you have received nasty, even racist messages via Twitter.

NB: That's part of being a pro athlete. During the season it's the same. When you play good, you are the best person in the world and when you play bad you are the worst person in the world.

Do you check Twitter after games?

NB: Yeah, I look at it but you have to move on. You know what you are doing and you know the people that like you and support you and that's the most important thing.

Your agent has been very vocal about how you want to go to Minnesota, but you haven't spoken at all about the issue.

NB: I just want to focus on the National Team right now. That's his job, to get a contract done. That's why I got an agent, that's his job.

Are you going to be upset if you have to go back to Portland?

NB: No.

What kind of player do you see yourself becoming in the NBA from an individual standpoint?

NB: I just want to be a leader. A very good player and that's why I'm working every day since I was born. I don't want to just. be in the NBA. I want to have success as a player, but also with my team. I want to be a special player.

All-Star?

NB: Why not?

Soon?

NB: I hope sooner than later.

Do you have a feeling about where you're going to play next season?

NB: I don't know. We'll see in a couple of days.