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Esteban Batista Interview




| Sept. 19, 2005

Esteban BatistaLast week the Atlanta Hawks signed free agent forward/center Esteban Batista. He's the first player from Uruguay to make the NBA. The 6-10 Batista spent most of last season playing in his native country. Here's what was said in a recent conference call with the player:

Question: What did you feel when you were told you were going to represent your entire country in the NBA?

Esteban Batista: This is really important to me and my country. Iím already enjoying what this responsibility entails and implies. To serve as an example and role model for our youth in Uruguay is an incredible achievement for me.

Question: If someone wouldíve asked you a month ago whether you preferred to play a lot of minutes with a bad team or a few minutes with a good team competing for a championship, what would you have answered?

Esteban Batista: If you wouldíve asked me that a month ago, I wasnít even thinking about playing in any team, good or bad, because I hadnít realized something this great could happen to me. The truth is that so far Iíve enjoyed life in Atlanta with the team, the organization and everyone that works with the team. I really donít think thereís a better option.

Question: Have you talked to some of the coaches about the amount of minutes youíll be playing during your first year?

Esteban Batista: Not yet, we havenít talked about that. I understand that is something I donít need to talk about, but rather work on. I have to be ready all the time, give my all during practices and well, theyíll decide if I play or not. In the meantime, Iíll do my job and put my best forward.

Question: Last year you had the opportunity to play a few games with the Chilean Basketball league. What did you think about that experience?

Esteban Batista: I had the opportunity to play two friendly games and it was a great experience. Although it was short-lived, I was able to take away a good impression of basketball in Chile and truly enjoyed the opportunity.

Question: What do you know of the Atlanta Hawks players and how do you feel about playing next to Joe Johnson, whoís also joining the team this season for reinforcement?

Esteban Batista: The truth is that I wasnít familiar with many of the players before I got here, so itís been great to be able to share practices with them. To be part of a team of this caliber, especially now with Joe Johnson, is great and Iím really happy about it. I think that this team has a good future ahead, which is why I have great expectations.

Question: Have they given you a t-shirt already? Have you chosen the number that youíre going to play with?

Esteban Batista: No t-shirt yet, but I already chose a number in honor of Oscar Moglia, whoís more than an agent to me Ė heís my father in sports. I owe a lot to him because of all the trust he provided me with during the time I played with him. In his honor, I chose number 11, which is the number he and his father wore throughout their careers.

Question: What attracts you the most about the NBA, improving your game or the large sums of money associated with the league?

Esteban Batista: What appeals to me the most is having the opportunity to be a part of this world that all basketball players dream of. Not all players are fortunate enough to make it at such a young age, and itís a real honor for me to be a part of this league. I canít wait for the season to start and hope to be able to stay for a long time, because there really is no better league than this one. I really have to work hard to earn a spot in this league.

Question: Which Latin America/Spanish players do you admire the most?

Esteban Batista: The ones Iíve admired the most are Andres Nocioni and Fabricio Oberto. Iím not friends wit them, but have had the opportunity of talking to them on a few occasions and think that they are excellent players and great people. I hope to follow their playing style and really admire them for who they are off the court.

Question: How did you get into basketball and how did you become an NBA player?

Esteban Batista: I was spotted on a bus because of my height and was persuaded into playing basketball and soccer as well. So this person insisted that I begin training and playing basketball and today, I owe quite a bit to that person. I listened, began practicing and here I am today.

Question: What star or NBA team did you dream about playing against?

Esteban Batista: Obviously the big teams for what they represent in the league, like the Lakers, the Miami Heat now with Shaquille OíNeal, the Spurs with Duncan, and well, the truth is that all the teams are good and Iíd love to play in every game and guard the stars that I admired and now play with in the league. I hope to be able to share a game with them on the court.

Question: What do you think are the characteristics that stand out in your playing style?

Esteban Batista: I think that everything is focused on the attitude that I put into every minute of the game. This helps me become more powerful, have more energy, better approach my rebounds, be more active under the hoop and be physically strong. I think these are my biggest strengths and also what got me here. Always wanting to play, help and fight a team.

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