Charlotte Hornets guard Nic Batum understands he’s been the lightning rod this season for general criticism over his team’s poor record.
He doesn’t take offense to fans ripping him. He also doesn’t pay the least attention to the noise.
“I don’t really care about it,” said Batum, a 6-foot-8 Frenchman in his 10th NBA season.
“If you play basketball as a pro, you go through that. For the last four or five years, I stopped” listening to or reading fan chatter, Batum said Tuesday, following practice.
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In the summer of 2016, Batum agreed to a five-season, $120 million guaranteed contract to remain a Hornet. That was the largest such guaranteed deal in Charlotte sports history. It focused the spotlight on Batum’s performance.
He has certainly not had a good season. Batum averages 10.4 points, by far his lowest scoring average in two-plus seasons with the Hornets. His shooting percentages - 39.6 percent overall and 27.7 percent from 3-point range -- are both career-worsts. His average assists (4.7) and rebounds (4.3) are down from last season. Batum tore a ligament in his left elbow in the preseason, and it threatened his season. He missed six weeks while rehabbing, and later had a setback when he aggravated his elbow.
“You’ll have good seasons and bad seasons. You can’t really control stuff, so move forward,” Batum said of fans venting their frustration on Twitter and other platforms. “Yeah, it’s a tricky season for me right now because I missed the first two months, and I came back. And then I was out two weeks later, when I was still hurt. The game I used to play hasn’t quite flipped (on) yet.”
Batum said he is not disregarding his reduced productivity.
“I’m the first one to be mad (about poor performances), trust me. But I don’t really care what people say,” Batum said fans’ blow back. “Sometimes I talk to my teammates. Sometimes I talk to Kemba (Walker) , or I talk to Coach (Steve Clifford).
“You know you’re going to get criticized every day (as a professional athlete). It’s going to be right there. So I don’t really care about that, anyway.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell