After averaging just under 25 minutes per game in 72 appearances (including 20 starts) for the Miami Heat this season, Shane Battier found himself a bystander at the end of his team's Eastern Conference finals win over the Indiana Pacers. The versatile forward logged just 13 minutes in Games 5 and 6 combined before being sat down completely in Game 7 thanks to a dreadful shooting slump that's turned the former sharpshooter into a questionable contributor heading into the NBA Finals — it was the first time this postseason, and only the second time since the start of the regular season, that coach Erik Spoelstra has made Battier a healthy scratch.
As you probably know, Spoelstra's call wound up being the right one, as Ray Allen found his stroke early, Mike Miller provided some defensive spark later and Miami cruised to a 99-76 win that set up an NBA Finals matchup with the San Antonio Spurs. And while Battier was a dutiful — like, really dutiful — teammate during the series-clinching win, the 12-year veteran hated being on the bench in a way that was hard to put into words.
Well, "hard to put into words" without being disgusting, at least. From USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt, who caught up with Battier at Wednesday's pre-Finals media day and practice:
"[...] Obviously as a competitor, it was tough. I'm not going to lie. It was maybe the toughest thing I've gone through as a competitor. Super happy for my team and my teammates.
"In retrospect, it's OK today. Every now and then you've got to eat a turd sandwich. You eat a turd sandwich and that ribeye tastes really good next time. That's life. That's the way I look at it."
That is a pretty gnarly way to look at life, Shane. Didn't you hear what Coach Pop said earlier about not being gross?
As Eric Koreen of the National Post noted, this is not the first time this season that Battier has gone to the ribeye well (oh, man, imagine a deep, deep well replete with delicious ribeyes) in search of an appropriate "this is the best" analogy. Thankfully, it is the first time he has gone to the turd sandwich well (NOTE: DO NOT IMAGINE THIS SECOND KIND OF WELL). Let's hope it is the last time.
Seriously, I am kind of hoping that Spoelstra reintroduces Battier into the rotation in Thursday's Game 1 just so that we don't have to hear any more feces-on-bread comparisons. Yuck.