Photos: @aida_dahmani

As a kid growing up in France, Nicolas Batum always found a way to watch NBA games, even though his family couldn’t afford the TV channel on which they aired. He’d catch a few quarters at friends’ houses or watch recordings of past games. Fast forward to 2020, and the game has not only gotten more global, but Batum’s French fans had a chance to watch him play in an official NBA Paris game, on January 24, 2020.

The mid-season matchup, which was also the NBA’s first regular-season game played in France, is a nostalgic homecoming for 32-year-old Batum. In 2003, he witnessed a special NBA exhibition game in France. Later in his career, Batum had the time-warping opportunity to play alongside one of his French idols from that game.

Batum, a 6’9”, 230-pound wing with a reported wingspan of over seven feet, has been putting in work on both ends of the court for 11-going-on-12 seasons. Originally selected 25th overall in the 2008 draft, he was traded and then flourished for seven seasons. A valued free agent in 2015, he left for the opposite coast and signed with Charlotte, where he eventually became Jordan Brand family.

Jordan Brand’s family in France has grown thanks to an official partnership with Paris Saint-Germain. Batum helped celebrate the launch of the team’s new kit and lifestyle collection in Paris and talked about both his journey and how sports bring people together. Read more below.


How does it feel to be Jordan Brand family, wearing Jordan Brand PEs, and playing for MJ in Charlotte?

You know, when I was growing up and playing basketball, of course I thought the greatest player of all time was MJ. To be a part of the family for more than two years now, wearing Jordan Brand shoes and clothes, is something special and unique. I’m just happy and proud to say that I’m a Jordan Brand athlete. I always wanted to play for him in the NBA, too, and it’s an honor.

In your opinion, what is the significance of the NBA Game in Paris?

It’s special to play an NBA game in your home country, in front of your family and your people. Not everyone can say that they’ve done that, especially in a regular NBA season game.

It’s the first-ever game in Palais Cerdan, right?

Exactly. It’s historic, I like that.

What does it mean for you to represent your country in the NBA?

You know, a lot of French guys did it in the past. We all do our best to make the country proud.

In your opinion, how does basketball unite people around the world?

Basketball is a very global sport. People play basketball around the world. You can go almost anywhere and see a soccer field or basketball court somewhere. You can see kids with soccer jerseys or basketball jerseys. The culture unites everyone who plays or likes basketball, no matter where they are.

“For the best city in the world, and one of the best teams in the world, they had to have the best brand representing on the jersey.”

You’re here rocking the new Jordan Brand x PSG collection. Why is this collaboration so important and historic in your opinion?

You know, Paris is the best city in the world. I’m not saying that because I’m French, but because I think so. For the best city in the world, and one of the best teams in the world, they had to have the best brand representing on the jersey. It was just natural, I think. It was just a matter of time. For Jordan Brand to get into soccer is huge. One of the best teams to ever do it is here, in Paris. It makes sense that this partnership happened.

Nicolas Batum and Neymar

Do you have any favorite pieces in the collection?

The footwear. I got the Air Jordan I and V last year, including the white Friends & Family version. That was just the beginning for what will continue to be great product. The black jersey is cool, because we all know that Paris is blue, white and red. It’s cool to see the team changing colors and clothes often.

What was it like to grow up playing soccer and then get into basketball?

I played with my friends and not very seriously or on a team. Growing up in Europe, you almost don’t have a choice but to play soccer. I wasn’t that good, but I played. My mom wanted me to play an outdoor sport. I still love soccer, I follow soccer. I love it. I follow my favorite team, of course, PSG, and I watch soccer every day. I don’t miss anything.

How do you use your position as an NBA athlete and as a Jordan Brand athlete to inspire others, especially the youth?

I believe that we have to set an example. We have a platform, and people are watching us, especially in 2020. People can watch and see almost everything. We might make some mistakes, we’re human, but we all need to remember that the youth are watching us. When I was growing up, I watched the big-time athletes, and they were my idols. 15 years later, I can say, “I did that,” partly because I was following those guys. We never know who we can inspire.


The new Jordan Brand x PSG kit and collection are now available at Jordan.com, Nike.com and PSG.fr.