When the Miami Heat got together in the offseason two years ago, they threw a ridiculous laser light show party in South Beach before LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ever played a game. Then LeBron made some ridiculous comments after getting caught up in the excitement of forming one of the best Big Three’s the NBA has ever seen. Quickly after that and after The Decision, Miami became the most hated team in the NBA and arguably the most hated and criticized team in NBA history. After every loss there were questions about LeBron James’ mental toughness, Dwyane Wade’s health, whether LeBron and Wade could play together, if Erik Spoelstra was the right guy to lead Miami to a title. It bordered on ridiculous at times but yet Shane Battier, who has been in hostile arenas before and played his college ball at Duke, the most hated college hoops program around, says it was at a different level in college.
Shane Battier joined WFNZ in Charlotte with the Mac Attack to talk about how it feels to be an NBA champion, how tough it was to deal with the constant scrutiny this past season, whether he thought his shot was going to come around in the playoffs, if his Duke title or this one with Miami means more to him and whether the criticism the Heat got was more intense than what he got at Duke.
How it feels to be an NBA champion:
“It’s pretty amazing. It still really hasn’t sunk in. It did a little bit after the victory parade but it was just an amazing journey and obviously this team that I was on this year, the Miami Heat, received a lot of scrutiny and every time we lost, people were ready to be fired and traded and all the above but we persevered, had some huge efforts in the postseason and beat some really good teams to be crowned champions. It’s an amazing culmination of a long year.”
How tough it was to deal with the constant scrutiny this past season:
“You learn to deal with it. There’s always a camera around and there is always a talking head doubting us or counting us out so after a while I get used to it and you learned to appreciate the only expectations that are important and those are the ones inside that locker room.”
Whether he thought hit shot was going to come around in the playoffs:
“I told people during the Indiana series when I was really bad from deep. Had a couple of 0-8 games or a couple of 1-7 games and said ‘guys the law of averages are going to play out. I am going to hit some here, it’s just a matter of when.’ I believed that. I felt great in the Boston series, got some open looks and was able to carry it on through the Finals. The Thunder just didn’t really guard me a whole lot so I knew I had some looks. It was just a matter of knocking them down.”
Which title means more to him: This one with the Heat or the one he won with Duke?
“They’re so different and it was 11 years ago that I won at Duke. It’s different, it’s totally different. When I won the championship at Duke I was the ring leader and that was my team so there was a certain satisfaction of being the guy, being the team captain and here I was one of the role players and I had an important role but the 11 year journey makes this one sweet in a different way and for a long time I never thought I’d get a chance. That’s all I really wanted, that’s why I went to Miami in the offseason just to have a chance to be a champion. I made the most of the opportunity and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Whether he thinks there was more hate directed at Miami or Duke when he was playing:
“The biggest difference was when I played at Duke I never saw one Battier jersey in an opposing arena. Being the guy at the time, I looked around and never saw one. At least in these arenas that we go to now, in every city there’s some LeBron and Wade jerseys out there so the vitriol was pretty thick but talking to the guys it wasn’t as deep-rooted and as thick as it was a year ago. I think people appreciated, if you’re a basketball fan there’s no way you couldn’t appreciate the way our team played especially LeBron and the year that he had, so I think we won a lot of people over with our style of play.”