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The sweet validation of one Shane Courtney Battier

Jun 24, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

I asked a group of friends recently what the first thing they think of when they hear the name Shane Battier.

Three people immediately said “Dukie.”

Two people said “Defense.”

And one person said “Smart.”

You can throw another one on there, now. NBA Champion.

Battier obtained another championship to go with his high school and college trophies on Thursday, and in doing so, validates a career that has been unremarkably spectacular, ordinarily amazing, and silently brilliant. Battier came to the Heat as the smart guy who loves tech, the guy featured in an article about being the “No-Stats All-Star,” who defended Kobe Bryant as well as possible, even while knowing he was going to get lit up like a Christmas tree. He was the guy who hit the shot to give the Grizzlies their first franchise playoff win, and the chemistry glue that helped the Rockets to that crazy win streak a few years back.

He was never supposed to be a household name.

And yet here he is. What’s sad is that what it took for Battier to get to that level of notoriety was his work on the offensive end, some of which was an outlier. Battier’s 3-point shooting hit the Thunder, as it did the Celtics before them, like a lightning bolt, a development they can’t believe happened to them. It was an Act of God, basically. What gets lost in that percentage was this point I’ve made several times: the formula the Heat uses is eerily similar to what the Rockets did in ’94 and ’95, and the Lakers in the early 2000’s. A superior inside presence forces the defense to collapse, and a quality passer finds the open shooter on the perimeter. You don’t need crack shooters if you’re that wide open. These are NBA players. They know how to fill their role. Battier knew he had to knock down those shots. And he did.

All the while he handled a series of mismatches that would discourage and bloody any player. Brandon Bass‘ superior size and strength. David West‘s similar physicality. Kevin Durant‘s singular offensive ability. And yet Battier went to the well each time, and made just enough of an impact to create a difference. He wasn’t the reason the Heat won. But he was a huge part of the reasons why LeBron James had an opportunity to be the difference.

Battier never wanted the attention and fame that comes with being a part of this “Hollywood” Heat team, but in a way his addition represents the change in maturity we’ve seen from the Heat. Throughout the season, Battier has been constant in the locker room, always with the intellectual comparison or philosophical quote, giving reporters gold as always. He doesn’t get caught up in the nonsense.

In the videos from after the win, in the champagne drenched celebration in the locker room, there was Battier, looking strangely satisfied in a way we’ve never seen, looking out of place in the crazy exuberance of the victory. And as everyone sprayed champagne and screamed, you couldn’t help but notice that Battier was wearing goggles.

Always thinking ahead.

  1. scalfor3 - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    the shot of lebron jumping up and down on the sidelines as the clock ran down…battiers in the background looking kinda bewildered, then he sorta half-heartedly starts jumping too hahahah

  2. imforbigblue - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Nothing like calling yourself a champion when your a bench player and they would of won without you anyways

    • londonaiooo - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      @imforbigblue

      Did you even read the article, or did you decide to skip right through and write something stupid instead? Battier was a huge part of why they won the games, his three point shooting, stepping in for charges and man on man defense were superb. Sure he wasn’t the MVP, but basketball is a team game and he played his role in this championship to perfection. But if that is too much for you to understand let me keep it simple for you, Heat with no Battier loses the finals, Heat with Battier wins.

    • dgforreal - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.

    • 1historian - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM

      wow, that’s really ignorant.

      And it’s bad English too.

      sigh

  3. newyorkfootballjets - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Exactly right when you are out matched by better players be a scrub and take charges.

    • truthhurtstoo - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      really? from a jet fan that hasn’t smelled a championship during their lifetime? that’s rich loser.

      • allthewaylive1 - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!

      • 1historian - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM

        that about sums it up

  4. rotaylla - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Wao,wao,wao…That was way too HARSH on Shane battier men…the guy has paid his due in this league from guarding Kobe to Durant that,s a hell of a job men give him dues…ha ha..lol or you tryin to say a scrub will always be a scrub??

  5. icewinna0 - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Battiers perfect for Heat. They need to keep him around

  6. miamatt - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Battier is as good as the Heat could possibly hope to get with the mini mid-level exception. Spoelstra really found something this postseason with Battier and James playing sort of “combo forward” roles and Bosh at the 5. Battier should be in the starting lineup for Miami every game for the next two years.

    Compare what the Heat get from Battier at his salary (appx. $3mil/yr) versus what Miller (appx. $6mil/yr) and Haslem ($4 mil/yr) have given at their respective salaries and you have to breath a sigh of relief that Battier came to Miami if you are a Heat fan. No disrespect to either of those guys, but Battier has given much better bang for buck.

  7. chitownjeff - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Nice piece Matt..now go back and reprint all the draft experts who said Shane had no fit in the league..as for jets and big blue..no need to respond to idiots..

  8. drewzducks - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    “Dukie”…”defense”…”smart”…”diver”…”flopper”…”actress”

  9. isujames - Jun 24, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    I always thought he looked like a marine or someone millitant.He did more than what you could ask of him against OKC, I don’t know about them losing the series without him, but he did do a great job.The Heat will repeat next year and I hope they upgrade @ the pg position,center and find better role players.

  10. danoinokc - Jun 24, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    @imforbigblue: I’m a Thunder fan and I’m not sure what series you were watching. But, not following the Heat, and critical of some officiating, Battier should be praised to the max. He kept the Heat in the game for games 2, 3, 4 and stung the Thunder hard in game 5. Add Chalmers and Miller in game 5 and you have a combination most teams would envy. Throw in a little of Reed and a lot of James and you have a championship team. I do hope the Thunder and Heat meet again next year. With a little tweaking of the Thunder, (eg: more 3 point shooters) and we’ll have a better series. The 3 point shooters were the ones who kept the Heat alive and won the games needed to win. Oh yeah, you helped too, Labron.

    • truthhurtstoo - Jun 25, 2012 at 7:53 AM

      That’s LeBron and who is Reed?

    • borderline1988 - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      Lebron had a triple double in the clinching game, was their leading scorer, rebounder, and assists for the series..plus probably their best defender…what planet are you on? And you talk about those 3 pointers killing your team…how many of those 3 pointers were wide open because Lebron was being doubled and then delivered perfect passes out of the post or on the fast break? Honestly, it seemed like ever Miami 3 pointer was set up by Lebron (a part of the game that Durant surely could use some work on).

      Basketball is a team game, and always has been. Lebron could get a triple double and still his team won’t win unless other players step up.
      Or Durant can go for 32 & 11, or Westbrook for 43 points, but it won’t matter unless your teammates step up. When Harden, Ibaka, Sefalosha and Perkins all play like s***, it doesn’t matter what Durant does in the NBA Finals. The opposition at that level is too good for one player to handle.

  11. going4iton4th - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    I’m a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies and Shane (actually got to meet him briefly when he played for Memphis). Shane is a great guy and a good player so I was happy for him to earn a ring—and Mike Miller as well. Totally down to Earth type of dude—way to go Shane!

  12. aahhyeahsucka - Jun 25, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    now a days when people describe you as “smart” they are indirectly dancing around the fact that you are a FLOPPER, which he is. A huge one. But other than that, I think he’s a pretty good player.

  13. 2ndaryinsanity - Jun 25, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    I was really pissed when the Rockets got rid of him. Shane is not only a talented player, he is a good person as well. I’d prefer him winning a championship with my Rockets, but am still really happy for the guy.

    • borderline1988 - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM

      That Rockets team with Artest and Battier was one my favourite teams in NBA history (and I have no connection to Houston). I remember when they took the Lakers to 7 games…what a tremendous series.

      They were so tough and gritty. Was a collection of role players who played the game the right way. If only Yao stayed healthy, that could have been a championship team.

  14. whodunit43 - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    i have no respect for clean defensive specialists… if youre gonna be a defensive specialist stop taking charges n be physical… dirty even…never liked him

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