After notching a dreaded DNP-CD in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Shane Battier went from being known as the "no-stats All-Star" to the "no-minutes All-Star." Fortunately, he's got a good enough sense of humor (and a colorful way with words) to help him get over the snub.
According to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports, Battier described his feelings on the benching as follows:
Obviously as a competitor, it was tough, I'm not going to lie,'' Battier said. "It was maybe the toughest thing I've gone through as a competitor. I was super happy for my team and my teammates. In retrospect, it's OK today. Every now and then you have to eat a turd sandwich. When you eat a turd sandwich, that ribeye tastes really good next time. That's life, and that's the way I look at it.'
For members of the media who knew Battier, a sound bite like this was practically inevitable. The guy's not one of the league's most entertaining interviewees for nothing.
Battier didn't waste his time on the bench, though. Seizing a moment of opportunity to help his team out in any way possible, he wiped down LeBron James with a towel during a timeout.
Now, that's teamwork!
When the buzzer had sounded and Battier jogged off the floor without having broken a sweat, he retained his dry wit (and honesty) be responding to a fan who congratulated him on his performance.
Ever the literalist, eh Shane?
The more serious angle of this story is that a year of battling bigger players as a small-ball power forward has clearly worn Battier down. He was of little help to the Heat in Games 1-6 against the Indiana Pacers, amassing just 14 points on 2-of-16 shooting.
Considering that he hit a whopping 43 percent of his triples during the regular season, Battier's disappearance from long range (he was 2-of-13 on threes against the Pacers) was a real problem for the Miami Heat.
So, coach Erik Spoelstra made a change in Game 7.
Instead of employing a banged-up Battier who couldn't get his shot off quickly enough against a Pacers defense that closed out faster than just about any other in the league, he went to Mike Miller. To be fair to Battier, Miller didn't exactly set the world on fire in his place. The little-used vet didn't hit a shot from the field.
But he did stretch the defense a bit and collected three steals on some key hustle plays. In the end, it probably wouldn't have mattered if Battier had actually played his normal minutes. But perhaps Spoelstra was also thinking ahead to the Finals, knowing that if Battier could recuperate a bit by resting for a game, he might regain some of his usefulness as a defender and shooter.
The San Antonio Spurs aren't quite as defensively tenacious as the Pacers were, and there should be a few more chances for Battier to shine as an undersized 4 in the Finals. Odd food analogies aside, Battier is right to be excited about his improved chances of success against the Spurs. In theory, his shot should come around and his savvy will continue to be valuable.
Failing that, he's got a great career ahead of him as a highly quotable towel boy.
Now, is anyone else hungry for a sandwich, or is that just me?
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