An Ode To NBA Retiree, Shane Battier
Nothing can quite confirm Shane Battier‘s retirement as an amendment on Wikipedia. In Wikipedia, as in life, Battier is now an NBA player in the past tense. Because of a Spursian beatdown of epic dimensions, Battier’s career will have to do without its cherry on top. But it remains one, as Battier himself puts it, without regrets.
Shane Battier isn’t a name that inspires images of championships and victories but it should be. Apart from being a main cog in two NBA championships for the Miami Heat, he’s an NCAA champion, has been on two NBA All-Defensive Second Teams, made 2002′s All-Rookie First Team, was NCAA’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player, has the honor of being a Naismith College Player of the Year, and yes, was considered the league’s best teammate this year, according to fellow players. Above all else, however, Battier has been a dedicated, meticulous, and willing defender that isn’t afraid to bleed, fight, or sacrifice for the very inches needed to win.
The New York Times called him the No-Stats All-Star. He’s never been known as a good rebounder, steals-getter, assists guy, and he’s averaged double-digit points in only three of his NBA seasons (two of which were a measly 10.1 points). But, somehow, some way he’s made teams he’s been on increasingly better. While at his peak with the Houston Rockets, Rockets General Manager and stats messiah Daryl Morey pointed out how, for his career, Battier was a plus-6 guy when it comes to plus-minus differentials. Other plus-6 guys? 2009 Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, and Tracy McGrady. The plus-minus model was largely introduced in the NBA because of Battier and his ability to impact winning beyond the standard box score.
In his 13-year career, Battier made it a point to be not just a glue guy, but a crazy glue guy—the kind that sticks to you and doesn’t let go, frustrating you to no end. He was heady and tireless and very much without ego. Morey tells how, in one outing against the Spurs, back when Manu Ginoboli was a dangerous offensive weapon, Battier asked his coach to bench him so that he could guard the 6th man Ginoboli throughout the game’s contest. Who does that kind of thing? Shane Battier.
It’s surely no accident that he was the member of two of the longest win streaks in NBA history. Last season’s impressive 27-game pounding of the league by the Miami Heat, and the three-month-long 22-game streak spearheaded by a tenacious Houston Rockets in 2007-08. Less should it be ignored that he’s one of only 30 players to tally 8,000 points, 4,000 rebounds, 900 blocks, and 900 steals. Some other names making that list: Patrick Ewing, Moses Malone, Vlade Divac, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan.
But just as he was known to be skilled at intercepting opposing team’s in-game strategy, Battier’s legacy always flew too much below the limelight, digestible categorizations, and traceable schemes to become a household name. And that’s precisely what has always been his value.