Greetings from Miami! The weather here has been great – no rain, lightning, and certainly no THUNDER! After last night’s game 4 win, I wanted to talk to the man most responsible for the victory, Miami Heat superstar Shane Battier. He is one of greatest basketball players in the world today simply because he can do it all – score, defend, draw offensive fouls, and make his teammates better. Though teammate LeBron James was recently named MVP for the third time, and despite Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant being widely regarded as the second-best player (behind James), neither player comes close to having the type of effect Battier does game after game. While not considered one of basketball’s elite athletes, Battier has developed into a player opposing teams fear and home teams love. I was lucky enough to catch up with Shane on his off day as the Heat prepare for a potentially NBA Finals-clinching game 5. Here’s what he had to say.
Grant Stevens: Shane, first of all, thanks for taking time away from studying sabermetrics to talk with me today.
Shane Battier: No problem, Grant. It’s my pleasure. By the way – I heard you average a pretty good click-through rate on your material.
GS: Shane, thank you for noticing. You must be excited – after twelve seasons in the NBA, your team is on the cusp of winning the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy. What are some of your thoughts/feelings as to what makes this team special?
SB: Well Grant, I am excited. I feel like we have a great team, and even though the series isn’t technically over yet, let’s be honest – saying we’re “on the cusp” of winning the title is a little understated. Its like saying a woman who just met Shawn Kemp is “on the cusp” of having his baby. She’s giving that birth! So, we’ve already won. This Thunder team clearly isn’t good enough, and besides that, no team has ever come back from being down 3-1 to win the Finals. This thing is over.
GS: Shane, that’s a great point. So, since you’ve won the 2012 NBA title, walk me through your journey to becoming the NBA champ.
SB: Gladly. You know, this year, we just had the right guys in the right spots at all the right times. Management was finally able to put the right people around me. We have Dwayne Wade, who you remember won the 2006 NBA Finals MVP due to a record number of free throws. He’s no slouch, especially from the free throw line. You’ve seen our role players step up like Chalmers and Norris Cole. You also have LeBron James who just won his third MVP trophy. My exceptional shooting has allowed him to attack the rim with abandon, and that’s just one of the reasons I am looking forward to winning the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award. Its just a special group of guys, and I’m glad my talents weren’t completely wasted toiling away with subpar teammates.
GS: Shane, those are all great points. I want to touch on something you brought up. You mentioned your exceptional shooting, but I feel like its your ability to draw offensive fouls that has really changed the tone of the series. Any comment?
SB: Grant, don’t sell my shooting touch short. Have you seen me out there? I’m unconscious, and I’m even aware of it! I’m consciously aware of being unconscious. Not even LeBron can boast that. So let’s get that straight.
GS: My apologies. Without question, your shooting has been unparalleled, and I certainly meant no disrespect. It’s just that, when compared to your ability to draw charges, even your best-in-the-history-of-the-league shooting seems to pale.
SB: Grant, apology accepted. Just know that I will crush you if I ever think you are failing to pay appropriate homage to my shot again.
GS: (nodding, scared and clearly deferential)
SB: There is no question that without my ability to put players in foul trouble my team would not have won the title this year.
GS: Go on.
SB: It’s right there on the court!! Any idiot can see that our team isn’t built to contain the explosive Thunder playmakers. They have the ability to slice to the rim almost at will, and we can’t stop them with conventional defense. Since I’m not an idiot, I recognized that fact early on and realized I would have to turn the tide myself. That’s why you’ll see me doing things like step in front of players right at the last second and get knocked down time and again. They might be good, but they can’t beat the system!! It almost seems like cheating, but if the refs gonna call it, I’m gonna keep doing it!!
GS: Shane, your selfless respect for the game and your peers is unquestionable. One issue is that some seem to think that your brand of drawing offensive fouls is not just unfair, but also dangerous. Can you comment on that?
SB: Grant, those are probably the same people who think its bad for dictators to hold their people hostage by creating artificial water shortages. As everyone should know by now, my motto is – proper preparation prevents poor performance. My second motto is – it’s only wrong if the refs call a foul. So, yeah, maybe a guy is driving at full speed and can’t stop when I block his path, and yeah, maybe he gets hurt running into me. Is that my fault? I hope he gets hurt. That would be the ultimate outcome. Can you imagine if I drew a charge from Durant and caused injury to him that ended his career and changed his life? I would have to win an ESPY for that along with the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award. Also, my VORP would be infinity.
GS: Shane, you are so skilled and smart. One counter a moronic person might make is that when you block a player’s path to the basket that should be a blocking foul. Isn’t that freaking dumb?
SB: Grant, if I ever meet someone who says a thing like that on the street, I will kill them. Wanna see my pistols?
GS: Shane, that would be great, but I have to run – I have an interview with David Stern over lunch. He’s going to fill me in on the league’s plan to continue the use of awful officials despite the outcry from frustrated fans, players, coaches, general managers, and nearly everyone associated with the NBA and anyone who loves basketball.
SB: Grant, I understand. Will you be around for the championship parade? I plan to bring my guns then so I can shoot some rounds off into the frenzied crowd. I’ll even let you take some shots.
GS: Shane, that sounds wonderful. Actually, it sounds wound-erful. Did you see what I did there?
SB: Yes, and I also saw what you did when you said “Did you see what I did there?”. You are an idiot.
GS: Thanks so much. Any parting advice to the next Shane Battier?
SB: You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules, but if you know the refs, you can do anything you want. Holla!!
Grant Stevens is a freelance writer who writes for free. He loves Mexican food and hopes to someday win the Pulitzer prize. He is also a major proponent for the correct usage of the word “ironic”. He lives in Oklahoma City. Oh, and he’s also a musician! www.grantstevensgroup.com