Three-time champ joins Joe Arlauckas for new 20th-anniversary episode, presented by 7DAYS
Mike Batiste was at the heart of the Panathinaikos Athens dynasty that won three EuroLeague crowns in five years between 2007 and 2011. As one of only three players on all three of those championship teams, Batiste represented all the things that made the Greens such a special team. He played with levels of confidence, ferociousness and selflessness that were worthy of the bevy of titles he would conquer. These were all traits that The Crossover host Joe Arlauckas related to in a conversation that grew so interesting that it has been split into two episodes brought to the fans by 7DAYS.
In the first episode, they started off discussing Batiste's upbringing in Long Beach, California, his path from community college to major college basketball, and his first two seasons in Europe before he went back to the United States to play for Memphis in the NBA. Batiste talked of the things he was looking for in those first years of his professional career and that he would later find in Athens.
[6:50] "When you get love in general, regardless of race, color, how old you are, that love comes right back," Batiste said. "I was just waiting to find the right place where someone can accept me with open arms and I was waiting to give the same love back."
Batiste remembers his introduction to the EuroLeague when he was playing for Italian side Biella and teammate Malik Dixon knocked on his door asking if he was watching that night's big game. They scanned the channels and found Alphonso Ford and Olympiacos Piraeus facing Anthony Parker of Maccabi Tel Aviv on television. At once, Batiste was transfixed by the level of play and passion of the fans. He began to watch EuroLeague games regularly and recalled how impressed he was by Panathinaikos's come-from-behind victory over Kinder Bologna at the 2002 Final Four.
By the fall of 2003, Batiste was already wearing the Panathinaikos uniform and learning from coaching legend Zeljko Obradovic, under whose tutelage Arlauckas had also won the EuroLeague years earlier. The conversation also touched on the everlasting rivalry between Panathinaikos and crosstown rival Olympiacos and the heated derby games.
[45:40]"When these two teams clash, it's European supremacy at its finest. A lot of European teams don't have that challenge and we had that challenge every single year because we knew Olympiacos was a historic and traditional ballclub," Batiste said.
Panathinaikos reached the Final Four in their second season together, but was upset in the playoffs in 2006. The disappointment of that sat with him all summer and fueled the fire that made sure that the next year would be a special one.
[57:15]"Aint nobody stopping this," Batiste said of the 2006-07 Panathinaikos squad. "That year, 2007, was a very magical season for us. Because we played at a very high level from the beginning of the year all the way till the end of the year. When you look at a lot of teams, in the NBA or Europe, that doesn't happen a lot."
When the curtain closed on that season, Panathinaikos hoisted its fourth – and Batiste's first – EuroLeague trophy. And they did it at home, at the Final Four in Athens. Of course, there would still be two more EuroLeague championships for them to celebrate together. Those will be discussed in the second half of The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas and Mike Batiste, coming soon.
With a one-hour format of exclusive one-on-one interviews, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas goes well beyond the playing court with each podcast to delve into the life experiences that have made his guests protagonists and legends of the EuroLeague. This season, he is also reviewing the EuroLeague's modern history in its 20th season of this century by talking to the legends who have made the competition more popular than ever.
The Crossover debuted last season with such current stars as Vassilis Spanoulis and Kyle Hines, coaching greats like Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Nikola Vujcic and Robertas Javtokas, among others. Recent guests include Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius of Zalgiris Kaunas, Coach Xavi Pascual of Zenit St Petersburg and Tyrese Rice of of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.
The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, Deezer, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, CastBox, iVoox and other platforms.