Shane Battier, the 35-year-old forward, has played in 969 NBA regular-season games and that total goes to more than 1,000 when you throw in 96 playoff games—45 of those while being part of back-to-back championship teams with the Miami Heat.
While Battier won’t come out and use the word “retirement,” Battier appreciates that he’s coming to the end of his journey.
“I mean, I’m at a point now where I know I’m not the player I once was,” Battier told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “It’s frustrating. And I always said, if I can’t do it at a level that I can be happy with, then do something else.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t want to hear the “R” word and the coach also dismisses any talk of a farewell tour for the 13-year veteran, even after he acknowledged the crowd Friday night after what might have been his final appearance at The Palace of Auburn Hills, very near where he grew up and was a prep sensation at the Detroit Country Day School before going on to win an NCAA title at Duke.
“I’m not looking at this at all as his reunion tour,” Spoelstra said. “But it was great for him to have an impact, have a special day in his home and get a win. And he was able to touch the people out in the crowd after the game.”
But retirement talk isn’t something Coach Spo wants to entertain, if only because he worries it will deflect the focus away from the quest for a third straight title.
“I don’t want to hear that, I really don’t,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t want Shane talking like that. This is about this journey.”
So without saying it, Battier is saying it.
“I’m minute-to-minute,” he said, laughing after the said it. “I’m minute-to-minute. Life is minute-to-minute and that’s all I can handle right now.”
It’s been a tough season for Battier. He’s averaging a career-low 4.2 points per game on career-worst 37.8 percent shooting, including a 33.3 percent mark from 3-point range—something that turned into his specialty, particularly since coming to Miami in 2011—that is also the worst of his career.
Just last season, Battier was in the top 10 for 3-point accuracy at 43 percent. But the shot just hasn’t been dropping and at this point in his career, when almost 76 percent of your shot attempts are 3-pointers and those aren’t dropping, your value to the club dips significantly.
He’s started 52 games this season, but he’s come off the bench in the last eight games. His 27 minutes Saturday night in a win at Milwaukee was his most run since he played 28 minutes of a loss to Brooklyn on March 12.
Battier was the sixth overall pick by the just-relocated Memphis Grizzlies in 2001, just after helping Duke to a national championship, and he averaged a career-high 14.4 points as a rookie, earning first-team All-Rookie honors. He would go on to evolve into a two-time All-Defensive second team choice with the Rockets late in the last decade.
Battier was a star in college—he won the Wooden and Naismith awards as well as the Associated Press player of the year awards as a senior and was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four that year—who was able to successfully transition to being a solid role player as a pro.
If it really is the end for Battier, it’s the NBA’s loss. He’s always been a consummate pro who got involved in the communities where he played and never caused any problems off the court, one of those “glue guys” who helps keep a team together.
After a 3-1 week, Miami is 50-22, 1½ games in back of Indiana in the East and in second place in the conference. The Heat have already clinched the Southeast Division title for the fourth straight season.
Here is the week that was, including game reviews, some news and notes, injury updates and rookie watch, and player of the week selection, as well as a look ahead to next week’s action (all statistical information from NBA.com/Stats):