SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Shane Battier, most assuredly, is the only NBA player who draws a charge one minute, cooks portobello mushrooms the next and later references “the Joycean” style of his writings.
As he navigates his final three weeks as an NBA player, the Heat forward is cherishing every moment, the experience heightened now that he has resumed playing after sitting idly in the first round.
Battier, 35, hasn't yet become emotional or nostalgic. But "I've been known to cry on a few occasions. I'm not afraid to shed a tear or two. My wife will say I'm a SAP."
He is chronicling his final season in a journal that he updates regularly. “A Joycian stream of consciousness,” he cracks, a reference to James Joyce, one of the esteemed fiction writers of the early 20th century. He might use it as the basis for a book.
Battier received marriage proposals from fans over the years, to the amusement of his wife, Heidi. This season, some reached out (on social media and through letters) to tell him he shouldn’t retire; others told him they’re all for it.
"More love letters than hate mail," he said, smiling.
So why will this season be his last?
"I'm just ready. Every person knows. Just ready for new adventures. If it were just about games, I'd play forever. The will to prepare to play is what most people don't see: the hours, the ice bags, the treatment, the stitches, not being able to get out of bed in the morning, missing your kid's birthday parties and missing your anniversaries.
"You have to sacrifice in order to prepare at a high level for this job, which I have for a long, long time..... I have no regrets on my run. I've given myself a chance to help my teams win every step of the way. I've done some really cool things."
He said “when I started, I had two goals: Play 10 years and walk away before the game kicked me out. It wasn't to win a championship. It wasn't to earn a certain amount of money."
His final regular season disappointed him personally. "The shooting percentage was down, but I just don't feel I played to my standards. I had a subpar year."
But he has helped in these playoffs, shooting 50 percent both from the field overall and from three-point range.
Last year, The Sporting News named him one of the 10 most intelligent people in sports. After all, who else weaves in the word 'monolithic' during a post-practice interview?
The sixth overall pick of the 2001 draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies, Battier speaks two languages (English and German), had a 3.5 GPA at Duke while majoring in religion, lists finances and sabermetrics among his interests, and once said the nerdiest thing about him is that he has a subscription to Laptop magazine. He taught himself to cook a few years ago and can whip up paella and assorted other dishes.
Unlike many players, the first number he wants to know after the game is not his points, but his plus/minus (the score differential when he was on the court). He’s the first Heat player in the past two decades to ask coaches for a detailed printout on the opponent he’s facing.
NBA players voted him the league’s best teammate this season, and he has left an imprint off the court here, especially with Norris Cole, who sits next to him in the locker-room and now also asks coaches for that same ‘Battier’ printout, while seeking life lessons on “how to save money” and more.
Udonis Haslem calls Battier the "smartest guy" he has played with. "I want to stay in contact with him 10 years from now; he's got some great networking," Toney Douglas said. "People wonder why Shane Battier plays in the league 13 years. He defends, he isn't going to make mistakes, he hits threes and he's a great guy in the locker-room. A great professional."
What Battier has most treasured this season is the quiet moments when he walks on arena floors on the road, long after the game ends, and soaks everything in. He did it in Detroit, New York and Houston.
Battier future’s will involve "a variety of things," including TV analyst work. His vision of leaving the floor for the final time this month doesn't involve hitting a game-winning shot in the Finals because "that's a little too storybook for me."
Instead, it's simply "feeling good about my run. Knowing I gave my team a shot to win every night. I'd be very content with that."
### Please see the last post for a lot more Heat notes from Saturday, including what the Heat is doing better this postseason than any other during the Big Three Era and Erik Spoelstra following the lead of Al Golden on his villian approach....
### The Heat-Spurs Finals rematch begins Thursday night in San Antonio. "We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time," Tim Duncan told TNT.... Charles Barkley picks the Heat to win the Finals, hoping this prediction is more accurate than previous ones.
### After studying the idea for months, David Beckham’s group and UM have mutually decided not to pursue the possibility of having the UM football team play in Beckham’s proposed soccer stadium presuming it’s at the boat slip site next to AmericanAirlines Arena, according to several people with direct knowledge. Voters will need to approve that site as a soccer site in a referendum likely to be held in November.
The idea of a joint football/soccer facility became too complicated, with too many logistical issues such as parking. Plus, UM has 18 years left on its Sun Life lease, and Stephen Ross strongly opposed letting the Hurricanes out of that, though UM never reached the point of asking.
Beckham plans to build a 20,000-seat stadium, pending voter approval. UM told Beckham's group that the stadium would need to be at least 40,000 seats for the Hurricanes to consider playing there. Ultimately, though, feasibility issues beyond capacity caused the sides to decide not to pursue it further.
### UM has been approached about opening the football season against Alabama in 2017 in Atlanta or LSU in 2018 in Arlington, Tx. UM will consider playing in one but not both.
### What a horrible time for UM's first shutout loss of the season: 3-0 to Texas Tech in the NCAA Regional in Coral Gables tonight. That means UM must win three games in the next two days: Bethune Cookman and Texas Tech twice to host a super-regional next weekend.
### Representation for former UM and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma reached out to the Dolphins, but Miami showed no interest after also passing on two other Canes linebackers in March: Jon Beason (Giants) and Darryl Sharpton (Redskins).
### Though Jason Taylor is working with Dolphins defensive linemen, associates say he’s not looking to become a coach, preferring instead to explore TV work while spending time with his family and on his charitable foundation.
“He will help young guys with the pass rush [but] I told him there’s no way you are going to help someone on the run game,” cracked Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks, Taylor's former Dolphins teammate.
### ESPN’s Keith Law has the Marlins taking North Carolina State left-hander pitcher Carlos Rodon (6-7, 2.01 ERA) with the second overall pick in Thursday’s draft, adding: “I've heard this comes from the owner: If the Cuban-American lefty [Rodon] is there at No. 2, take him, and we'll have a pair of Cuban aces at the top of our rotation.”
But Jeffrey Loria hasn’t been meddling in recent months, and Baseball America says Loria won’t insist on Rodon.
If the Astros take Rodon No. 1, Miami might opt for one of two elite San Diego high-school players (lefty pitcher Brady Aiken or catcher Alex Jackson) or LSU right-hander Aaron Nola.
ESPN analyst and former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden advocates Aiken, if there at No. 2, adding: “A future rotation of Aiken, Jose Fernandez and Andrew Heaney could be special. Aiken could be the next Cliff Lee.”