Battier’s Speechifying Gets Credit In Sparking ‘The Streak’


.
No one can say for certain when the Miami Heat’s 21-and-counting streak of consecutive victories is going to end. But everyone knows when and where and against whom it started: a 100-85 cruise over the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 3 that the Heat broke open in the second half to bump their record to 30-14.

Miami is back there Sunday, clearing a much gaudier 50-14 through customs this time. Unless the Raptors, who haven’t beaten a playoff-bound team in nearly a month, pull off something thoroughly unexpected, the Heat will tie the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the NBA’s second-longest winning streak. From No. 22, it’s a clear path – 11 games (seven on the road) and 10 opponents (Charlotte twice) – to the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. For perspective on its durability, that 33-game streak of Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West & Co. has lasted longer than the span between Babe Ruth‘s 714th home run and Henry Aaron‘s 715th.

Heat upcoming schedule
Day Date Loc. Opponent Time (ET) TV
Sun. 3/17 @ Toronto 1 p.m. League Pass
Mon. 3/18 @ Boston 8 p.m. ESPN
Wed. 3/20 @ Cleveland 7 p.m. League Pass
Fri. 3/22 vs. Detroit 7:30 p.m. League Pass
Sun. 3/24 vs. Charlotte 6 p.m. League Pass
Mon. 3/25 @ Orlando 7 p.m. League Pass
Wed. 3/27 @ Chicago 8 p.m. ESPN
Fri. 3/29 @ New Orleans 8 p.m. League Pass
Sun. 3/31 @ San Antonio 7 p.m. NBA TV

After the matinee in Toronto this time, win or lose, Miami will promptly wing its way to Boston for Monday’s game against the Celtics. Last time, though, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of them stuck around Ontario several hours longer, an unusual deviation from the standard NBA itinerary that led to an unscripted moment and, ever since, these extraordinary results.

What was so special? Shane Battier gave his “famous” speech.

That’s how Wade refers to it, anyway. And it’s moving up the charts fast to rank with the best of Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi and Norman Dale in terms of sports impact.

Remember, Feb. 3 wasn’t any ol’ Sunday afternoon. It was Super Bowl Sunday, pitting the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers, the No. 1 must-see sports event of the calendar for most red-blooded U.S. sports fans. Yet here the Heat sat up in Toronto, scheduled to fly home when they should have been sprawled and nacho-ed out on multiple couches like so many of their fellow citizens. Feeling a little cranky about it, too.

“We talked about how not being able to watch the Super Bowl,” veteran guard Ray Allen recalled Friday night in Milwaukee. “it wasn’t ‘the American Way.’ We were all disappointed because there was so much hype going into it. We wanted to see the game. The organization made it happen.”

Miami management arranged for the team to watch the game (Ravens 34, 49ers 31) at a sports bar in downtown Toronto. Good times flowed, even with the Heat facing a back-to-back wrap-up against Charlotte the next night. It was on the bus to the airport that Battier was moved to get to speechifying.

“It was in the spirit of the Super Bowl – a great game,” Battier said. “In the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie. … We have a saying around this club, ‘Touching the people.’ I was giving the people a soulful touch. It’s metaphorical. It’s very Zen-like.”

The more Battier was pressed for details, though, the cagier he became. As if revealing the content of his verbiage might sap it of the success it has generated, however coincidental it might be.

“You have to ask my teammates about the speech,” the veteran role player said, smiling and laughing. “I can’t give the same speech twice. It’s like a rainbow. Once it’s gone it’s gone. Let it be. That’s the beauty of it.”

Fair enough. So what was the speech about?

“Just touch the people,” forward Udonis Haslem said. “People want to be touched. Sometimes it’s going to be uncomfortable. Sometimes they might get carried away. But touch the people. The fans. And enjoy these moments, because they’re going to come to an end some day.”

Oh, that speech…

It might seem a little disconnected, that a topic like “touching the people” would translate into the third-longest winning streak in league history. That a Kumbaya, I-love-you-man hoot on a charter bus might play a role in propelling the Heat to nothing but victories for the next 41 days and counting.

But it could be one of those “if the Miami players believe it made some difference, then it did” sort of things.

“That just brought us closer,” Haslem said. “We were never separated. We’ve always been connected as a group. But I think, definitely, doing things off the court only helps the relationships on the court.”

Said Allen: “Whether you want to say it’s coincidental or not, anytime you have an opportunity to have some team-bonding and building off the floor, it always bodes well in your favor.  Especially throughout the long season. You take every little break and opportunity you can.”

It doesn’t hurt that, in Battier, the Heat have one of the NBA’s most coveted “glue” players, a wily vet who does whatever is needed in the moment, no matter how grimy or thankless the task. During the streak, apart from his defense, the 6-foot-8 forward from Duke has averaged 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while shooting 52.8 percent from 3-point range. All his numbers are up compared to the season overall.

“He’s a big part of everything we do here,” Allen said of Battier. “Without guys like that, it’s hard to put together streaks like this, where you have consistency and habits and selflessness out there on the floor. He’s one of those guys who does the intangible things, so yeah, he does have a big part in it.”

It’s also more than a curiosity that Battier was a starter on the 2007-08 Rockets team that strung together those 22 victories. That makes him the only player in NBA annals to have played for two of the three teams with the longest winning streaks.

As Miami bears down on Houston in the No. 2 slot, Battier isn’t conflicted at all. “You live in the moment,” he said. “I look at what I’ve done in the past with a smile and a reminiscent kind of time, but I’m enjoying living right here, right now.”

Clearly he’s more than a good-luck charm in terms of winning streaks. Battier is a valuable piece of the Heat’s puzzle, same now as when he helped them win a championship last June.

And never forget, he’s a speech-giver. No, really: Battier is registered with the Washington Speakers Bureau, an agency that lines up pricey gigs for athletes, celebrities, business leaders, politicians, Nobel Prize winners and anyone else sought to entertain and inform a group.

In the WSB fee structure, Battier is a 4, which means he’ll typically be paid $15,000 to $25,000 per speaking engagement. He still makes more than that as an NBA player – his $3.135 million salary works out to about $38,231 per game – so it make sense that he threw the Heat a freebie that night in Toronto.

With results like this, though, it won’t be long before Battier’s podium price gets up there in Tom Brokaw-Frank Caliendo-Tony Blair territory. None of whom, it should be noted, ever won 21 in a row.

45 Comments

  1. This bruno from BORAT says:

    LBJ done and incredible game to make a lead 105 -103… But Shane’s Defense wins it for them… late game block of Jeff Green was priceless…. Good defense, all ball block shot…. I’ve watched him during his Duke days, along with Carlos Boozer,Mike Dunleavy Jr., Chris Duhon, jay jay williams against Brandon Haywood’s UNC… He was outstanding defender… Being a MIAMI HEAT suits him very well….

  2. marsh0 says:

    I really hope Shane Battier reads this and the glowing comments about him.
    I too believe that shane is as important to this team as LBJ, Dwayne or Chris Bosh.
    This guy does all of the dirty work. The things that do not make it onto the stat sheets.
    Shane, We’re noticing!!! we hope your jersey hangs in our rafters when it is all said and done.
    and man, YOUR THREE POINT SHOOTING IS JUST ABSOLUTELY SNIPER LIKE. VERY DEADLY!!!

  3. wooderson says:

    shane battier deserves soooooo much more credit than he is given for last years title and this years play. he hits the 3s, he takes defensive loads off lebron and haslem and gives them piece of mind and comfort, he is a calm leader and an intelligent and measured, he is the perfect guy for this heat side and any contending side, you almost cant win titles without a guy like shane battier. i am the only one who has huge love for the heat role players? birdman, haslem, battier, cole, anthony, ray to a degree i guess you could call him a role player now. this is what i love about the NBA and sport in general

  4. the HEAT are now hard to beat:)
    let’s go HEAT NATION!

  5. tayriley says:

    battier for president of the nba

  6. SoFlaFan says:

    Don’t count on it, Heat got this!!!!

    Great read, Shane’s like no other!

    Go Heat!!!

  7. This bruno from BORAT says:

    22 straight….

  8. Kamote says:

    Not a Heat fan. Im for Boston. But you got to give respect to a team that can win 20+ consecutive games.

    Unlike the Rockets that won 22, the Heat didn’t do this under the radar. The Rockets back then was inspirational – can’t seem to play Yao and TMac at the same time, plus other injuries to other players that come their way – and despite winning #22, they’re not still seen as a deep playoff team. It was just a special year for that team whom everyone thought was an experiment gone wrong (due to injuries).

    This year’s Miami is different. They’ve won the ring last year, have the most dominant player, and have 3 of the 20 best players this day — they have targets on their backs since day one. Everyone knows this is a championship team, and they just can’t sneak a 15, 10 or even 5 straight wins without anyone noticing. This isnt about having an inspirational team, this is about how a dominant team should be.

    Still, kudos to the Heat, lets just see if Boston spoils this run :).

    • marsh0 says:

      Wow!! i never knew Boston had objective fans like you. Hats off to you for recognizing game.
      You make some excellent points.
      Like Doc rivers said. teams get up to play these guys. Teams bring their best every night to play the Heat.
      They still mostly get blown out.
      winning by an average of 12 points per.
      I hope Garnett plays tonight. We don’t want any excuses.

  9. iSHAQ or SHAQTOLOGY says:

    DELONTE WEST to the KNICKS….
    MICHAEL REDD & GILBERT ARENAS to the LAKERS…..

  10. CRR9 says:

    And it’s not a coincidence that the Celtics ended the Rockets streak in 07′ and they have to play the C’s tomorrow. Go Celtics!

  11. Lecajr says:

    Can we stop comparing Lebron to Jordan. I don’t think Jordan went out to look for 2 more allstars because he couldnt do it in Chicago. Jordan waited to develop the championship team. None of this quick fix b.s. Why have a draft, Let the college players pick what team they want to go to. That is going to happen anyway.

    • marsh0 says:

      Hey Lecajr doofus, Where was MJ going? He was in Chicago. Chicago has no problem getting free agents to come there.
      Plus they had a team around MJ.
      You dumdums keep acting like MJ did anything on his own. He lost 7 years on his own before they won anything with the help of scottie Pippen and some other greats.
      Who were dan gilbert surrounding LBJ with? Moe williams and Boobie Gibson? a walker using Shaq? Larry Hughes? Antawn Jamison?
      I’m sure you would be the first one criticizing LBJ if he never won a ring.
      whether you respect his decision or not DOESN’T MAKE A GRAIN OF DIFFERENCE IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS.
      How many people still bash Shaq about leaving orlando? Kareem about leaving Milwaukee? Both better cities than cleveland and they still left.
      Who wants to stay in Cleveland? Come on. It’s cleveland!!!

  12. Omar Archer Sr. says:

    This was a wonderfully written article, but it did not end right. It’s just my evaluation of the writer’s ability to convey a consistent story. Okay case and point, In the six parahrapg from the bottm up which starts ” It’s also more” would have firmly supported the very last sentence if it had ended with the word “TWICE”.

    An eye for detail is and always has been the key to success…

  13. Moody says:

    i would just like to say Kobe was right the officials missed a call, LOL

  14. GT-Miami says:

    ‘…it could be one of those “if the Miami players believe it made some difference, then it did” sort of things.’

    Coincidental description of a big sports team. It’s like the Bud Light commercial: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work”.

  15. Ladyshakalaka says:

    Great article, I absolutely love Shane Battier he is such a hard worker on the floor. An undersized power forward and going up against power forwards 50 pounds heavier. He never gives up and works hard all the time! He is a great orator and very smart basketball player. I love the Miami heat and LEBRON JAMES is amazing! I believe that the Miami Heat has finally become the team that Pat Riley built! They are unstoppable and they may very well break the lakers record! I think the only team in the NBA that could try to beat Miami is the extremely well coach San Antonio Spurs! Tim Duncan is one of the best power forward to ever play the game- they have Splitter playing really really good and their heat will give Maimi match up problems. Then you have Tony Parker- and Dwayne Wade who can match up and nobody on Spurs can match up against LBJ but they will throw Leonard, Capt. Jack at him but they can’t stop him. Boris Diaw is not consistent and Manu is no playing like himself. I still say the Maimi Heat will win another championship! I think that Spurs will beat OKC this year and make it to the finals, Spurs will probably play the Lakers in the first round which will help them in the long run. GO MIAMI HEAT!!!!’!!!!!!

  16. Joe says:

    i really like this article. Inspiring und Touch!

  17. Trey says:

    Shane is an awesome guy. I met him in an airport about ten years ago and had the opportunity to talk about ten minutes with him. I was surprised with how humble he was

  18. finals MVP says:

    i know most would laugh at this but i truly think Battier deserved the finals MVP last year… he played insanely solid defense and hit all those threes to win them the games when they needed it the most. no finals performance like that, no title…..

  19. bitch please says:

    no comment haha

  20. You gotta love the Miami Heat’s 21-and-counting streak of consecutive victories. They’re doing it simply because they believe they can.

    If you keep on saying to yourself that you cannot do a certain thing, it’s very possible that you might end up becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if you have the strong belief that you can do it – you will surely acquire the capacity to do it … Your mind is like a magnet. What you focus on with your thoughts is what you attract into your life.

    Go Miami Heat!!!! Let’s keep rolling :-)

  21. DWarner says:

    Aschburner does it again!

    Another great piece. This guy always writes the most thoughtful articles on ESPN.

    I feel like emailing him after every piece to give him props! I have on a couple occasions actually. Once to take him to task for a position he took in Race to the “MVP” and he cordially responded with an intelligent reply. Another time just to give props and he responded graciously again. Great journalist…

    And Battier? Every NBA team needs cats like this. Unfortunately they may be more rare than guys who can go out and get you 25 plus every night. And there’s only around 5 of them in the league…

  22. Nate8271 says:

    I very much agree. By far the best writer alongside David Aldridge in terms of quality and engaging content. Keep it up Steve.

  23. enrique says:

    manny and spoelstra not in the same sentence charles!! ahahahahahha! representing the philippines as head coach of the miami heat!!

  24. LOL! Thanks for the lighthearted, great read!

  25. Sumyungai says:

    I am proud to share the title of ‘HUMAN’ with this man.

  26. Sumyungai says:

    This….well, I’m reading this at 4:52 AM and I can honestly say I still appreciate Shane Battier just as much as I did 10 years ago as a role model. I am very happy to see him getting the recognition he deserves. He’s a great basketball player and human being.

  27. SuperSunshine21 says:

    I usually don’t read a whole article here, but this one I did, refreshing and solid as mentioned by an earlier poster

  28. MrPhatz05 says:

    Lets go Heatt!!!

  29. Rhedz says:

    reality check…There won’t be any Heat, Okc repeat…I’m a heat fan…a solid heat fan…But i do like spurs and coach pop, timmy manu and tony..i respect their team and their game…no one in the west deserves a shot at the current champions than the spurs…if i’d be force to choice another contender it would be denver but other than denver and spurs there would be no other legit contender for the west in my opinion…

    I just hope the heat wins the finals and hopefully they win the streak number one spot…It would be awesome, bron winning season mvp and finals mvp and the heat beating the lakers in streak win spot and getting a repeat championship…it would be awesome…

    As for battier, i like him, his game and his attitude…he’s humble..prolly not as humble as tim..who can i say or prolly the most humble player currently. Battier plays a big role in heats defense and offense…he gives so little yet that little thing is actually a big part of what the heat does in every game, He’s no superstar…What he has is actually a heart of a true legendary veteran…

    Heat vs. Spurs 2013 nba finals…!!!

    Bosh / Andersen / Anthony
    James / Haslem / Vernado
    battier / Lewis / Howard
    Allen / Miller / Jones
    Wade / Chalmers / Cole

  30. Bond Michael says:

    I like the last quote of the aritcle about Tony Blair and the gig none ever won 21 in a row ..heheh.. But so to speak I believe its one of those of those things that come in at just about the right time. The speech could play a role because it was given at a time ehen it would count the most the time when it would mean something to the team…

  31. Angel says:

    Pretty awesome post. Thank you for this.

  32. RB3SPURS says:

    Who else agrees that a Spurs vs. Heat Finals matchup would be awesome. Truth is, I think the Spurs have a better chance against the Heat than the Thunder do. They almost beat the Heat without Tim, Tony, Manu and Danny Green, and the game was very close. The Heat have won like 5 or 6 straight games over the Thunder and they really have no answer for the Heat. Well Tony Parker might be back and ready to roll at the end of the month, hopefully sooner, and thats when they play the Heat. It should be a good game. GO SPURS!

  33. Kabir says:

    Hats off to Shane !!!

  34. 416 says:

    Go Raps! End their streak!

  35. Chris says:

    I really like Battier’s game. Don’t really care for the Heat but I love watching him go “invisible” on the court only to seemingly pop out of nowhere and drain a three

  36. Chad says:

    solid article. refreshing actually. a lot better than most writing we normally see around NBA.com

    • I agree, better than most….battier is an underrated part of the heat…hes their x-factor…without him, they wouldn’t beat OKC by 4-1…OKC would even have the chance to beat them…battier was also one of the reasons why the Memphis Grizzlies upset the san antonio spurs two years ago because of his dagger 3