Shane Battier: The True Idol to Look Up To

Nick OwenContributor IMay 12, 2009

HOUSTON - MAY 08:  Guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 8, 2009 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

LeBron James is putting on the type of historical performance many of us have never witnessed before.

Jordan did it. Bird and Magic did too. As well as, Kareem, Wilt, Russell, etc. The only one of that group I can say impacted me was Jordan because I was there. The others were before my time, just as Jordan was before the time of many today.

But my advice to the fresh eyes out there who are enthralled by the domination and the brilliance of LeBron, the peak of which has not yet been reached in these playoffs, is to take this performance with a grain of salt, because you cannot do it.

This type of ability is reached by only a child sized handful of the billions that pick up a basketball. The performance to watch and emulate is that of Shane Battier.

Battier's hard nosed efforts show how far being a student of the game, practicing the fundamentals, and putting team before self can get someone in this league.

No, he is not flashy and I cannot remember the last time the man threw down a dunk, but would the Rockets be tied two to two with the Lakers without him?

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Every night he relentlessly hounds Kobe Bryant, jamming a hand in the best scorer in the world's face, keeping his cool while Kobe endlessly chatters in his ear. Then, he hits big three after big three when his team needs it most and in the post game interview he gives his teammates all the credit for passing to him.

In this age of narcissism and egoism, of chest thumping and attention craving, Battier quietly does his job the best way he knows how, realizing he is just one cog of a much larger team machine.

Do not get me wrong, I love LeBron and I do not think he is at all a narcissist. I cannot wait to marvel and gawk at this freak of nature for years to come, but he is an anomaly. That amount of skill, leadership, hunger and maturity is not supposed to be able to fit in one person. Lucky for him, his body is roughly the size of a Mack truck.

Sadly for the rest of us, that type of genetic mutation comes along about as often as the NBA admitting a mistake (the apology for the non-call in the Nuggets/Mavericks game was the first since WWII).

Instead, us common folks are relegated to a life of minimal skill in an average body, and in order to exploit that skill, we must focus on the hustle plays, gain an edge by studying, and find all the little things that best help the team.

So, when you are out on the playground playing five on five or three on three, do not do your best LeBron imitation by dribbling aimlessly at the top of the key before jacking up a contested three while your teammates wait for their turn to do the same on the next possession.

Take a page from Shane Battier's playbook and set the screen that frees the best shooter, box out the biggest guy, and shut down the opposing team's "LeBron."

He will nott make every highlight and you will probably never wear his shoes, but Battier does not care because there is a game coming up and he has a job to do.


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