It seems like a million years ago, given all the attention we've paid since to the NBA draft and world-shaking free-agency period, but it hasn't even been a month since Shane Battier tasted the biggest victory of his basketball-playing life — a blowout Game 5 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder that gave his Miami Heat an NBA Finals victory and earned Battier the first championship of his 11-year NBA career. And as you'll recall, Battier did indeed earn that title.
After a less-than-stellar regular season that saw him often look a step slow on defense and shoot well below his career averages on offense, the Duke University product was sensational in the championship round, averaging 11.6 points per game and making 15 of his 26 attempts from 3-point range. He had as big an impact on Miami's five-game win as any non-Big 3 member of the Heat, and knowing that must make the accomplishment all the sweeter.
Of course, the accomplishment's pretty dang sweet all by its lonesome — a fact Battier reminded us while preparing to take part in the upcoming American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. From The Associated Press:
Nearly a month after the Heat topped Oklahoma City in five games, Battier is still celebrating, with a couple of days of golf lessons at Duke this week serving as his preparation for Lake Tahoe. So clearly, he's not too worried about where he'll fare in a field expected to include the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Greg Maddux, John Elway, Tony Romo, Urban Meyer and actor Ray Romano.
After a celeb-am round Thursday, play formally starts Friday.
''Even if I'm terrible, I'm still an NBA champion,'' Battier said.
And there it is.
Battier's joking, but you could understand it if he was kind of kidding on the square; as much as we might decry the "COUNT THE RINGZZZZZZ" argument when it's used to unfairly malign the many great players who never won a title, the flip side of it — where guys who aren't great (or who in some cases might have even been downright bad in the league) get to have "NBA champion" in front of their names forever — is a pretty cool bonus.
Shoot 10-over on the front nine at the pro-am? Probably still hung over from all that champagne I was drinking when we won the NBA championship. Picked up 2 percent milk instead of skim while out at the grocery store? Oh, I'm sorry, honey — must have slipped my mind while I was answering questions about 57.7 percent of my 3-pointers in the NBA finals. Get ragged on for your weird shoe commercial? Oh, I'm sorry — I couldn't hear you over the sound of my name being etched into history.
Shane Battier's never going to be a star player, and who knows how many years of top-flight competition he's got left in him? But from here on out, no matter how bad things get, he'll always have this one. That's got to help clear some of the clutter out of your head when you're standing in the tee box, right?