Shane Battier reminisces about what growing up as a "Garbage Pail Kid" in Birmingham, Michigan meant to him. He was never the most skilled player in the NBA, but he always had the heart of a champion. In The Dumpster Diving Battier Brothers he writes,
"This habit of doing what needed to be done carried me from the blacktops of suburban Detroit all the way to my days with the World Champion Miami Heat. I was never the most athletic guy on my teams, and no one would have described me as the most ‘naturally talented’ guy on any roster.*"
"Yet despite not having the ‘talent’ or raw athleticism of my teammates and competitors, I always found myself on the court in the 4th quarter, in crunch time. My coaches knew that I would always put myself and my team in a position to win by doing whatever the situation required. Diving for loose balls, sacrificing my body, being a pest on defense, and simply being present and focused mentally were all things that kept me on the floor at crunch time. Whatever my team needed, I tried to not only supply, but supply at a high level."
"*For what it’s worth, ‘naturally talented’ is a phrase that makes me laugh. There is no such thing. ALL skills are learned and earned."
His yearly Battioke events are an example of some of the intangibles he brought to Miami, and help make being part of the Heat team so special back in those days.
Shane ends his inspirational essay by writing what could be the motto for this season's Heat:
"One man’s trash was truly a treasure for a couple of enterprising young brothers just doing what we had to do."
An accomplished public speaker, Battier stresses the importance of intangibles as a key to winning. In this Nantucket speaking gig he chronicles his tenure with the Miami Heat, where he routinely had thankless jobs, such as defending players 30-40 pounds heavier than him.
The current Heat team has often been maligned as consisting of players being either too inexperienced or journeymen. From Battier's perspective a roster can contain buried treasures waiting to be unearthed, because guys simply did everything possible to make winning a reality.
For instance, Justise Winslow looks a lot smoother in this snippet from the USA Select Team practices.
A video of what an actual Team USA Select 2016 practice and scrimmage looks like is shown below (Winslow is #78).
Can this current squad of promising Heat players, with plenty to prove, take Battier's words to heart and produce a successful post-season run?