August 25, 2011
Most NBA fans know Shane Battier(notes) as one of the league's great men, the kind of person who could branch out into politics after his athletic career is over. He has a real sense of the world outside of himself.
But to what extent did that disposition develop because Battier was born with a French-sounding last name. France, as we all know, is a haven for the life of the mind. If that name were all a sham, would the Battier mistake come crumbling down?
The answer, of course, is yes. Prepare to have your world rocked with the real story of how Battier's last name came to pass. Here's what he had to say at a press conference for the apparel brand Peak in China (via SLAM and TBJ):
"My dad, Eddie Battle, born Eddie Battle, on his birth certificate, whoever wrote it down wrote B-A-T-T-scribble-scribble-scribble. So my dad grew up Eddie Battle his entire life, and then he joined the army when he was of age, the army recruiter actually had his own interpretation of what was on the birth certificate. They wrote down B-A-T-T-I-E-R.
"So the first day in the army, my dad says 'Private Battle reporting for duty.' The sergeant said, 'There's no Battle, there's a Battier [ed. note: pronounced 'batty-er'].' So my dad says, 'That's not my name.' The sergeant says, 'Well Uncle Sam says it is.' So my dad kept it.
"So he was Eddie Battier [still 'batty-er'], and he met his wife, my mom, in '75 and she said, 'It looks French. We'll call it French.' So from that point on they were Battier [bat-ee-ay]. So I'm a first generation Battier."
It's a bizarre story, especially when you consider that Battier's father could have easily gone back to being Eddie Battle when he left the armed forces. On the other hand, ad campaigns and action movies have taught me that men don't become men until they fight for their country, so maybe that name is the true representation of the man Eddie became.
This news also makes you wonder if any other NBA stars were incorrectly named. Perhaps LeBron James(notes) was always supposed to be Lyndon Baines Johnson. Or maybe Dwyane Wade(notes) was meant to be "Dwayne." Would he be a more conventional star if that were the case?