Shane Battier played 29,001 minutes in the NBA before reaching his first NBA Finals. He responded by being a serious perimeter threat for the Miami Heat, making 16 3-point shots over the five games, scoring in double digits in three of them.
Battier has completed the trophy trifecta, winning a high school state championship, an NCAA title at Duke and an NBA title. And he has been enjoying his victory lap, banging on pans in the Heat's victory parade and throwing out the first pitch at a Marlins game.
Battier took a few minutes out of his summer to reply to a few email questions from Playbook on his triumphant season:
What were you doing right before responding to this email?
I was playing "Madden 2012" with my son Zeke on the PlayStation. He's pretty good for a 4-year-old.
Did you ever think you'd win an NBA title? Even as a boy when making the NBA was your dream, did you think you'd ever really make it here?
Every kid dreams about winning the title. World champions! That's what you play for. I played for 10 years without getting out of the second round and sometimes it felt like I would never get the opportunity. When I finally did this year, I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity. But there were times when I doubted if I would get there.
It's no secret you are a smart guy -- reporters and analysts always harp on it -- when it comes to the NBA and the Finals in particular, how much of it is talent, heart and just plain smarts?
It's just basketball. It's about putting that ball through the hoop and stopping your opponent from doing the same. The Finals are different only from the perspective that both teams are so close to being champions that elevates the competitiveness of every possession just a tad more. Obviously everyone plays so hard, but you have to maintain great concentration as well.
Have you ever celebrated before like you did after winning? My favorite picture is the one of you dousing yourself in Dom, then tweeting about it being "completely frivolous."
I'll never forget the champagne bath. Dom Perignon, I mean, c'mon. How awesome is that? Everything is very serious in the NBA, so it felt good to just be a kid and dump champagne -- really good champagne -- on my head.
LeBron James called you "the key player" during the Finals -- how did that make you feel?
When the best player in the world values you as a teammate, that's pretty cool. Where do you go from there?
What was different about your perimeter shooting this postseason? Did you feel different, or were people just starting to take notice on a much bigger scale?
Law of averages. I shot so poorly during the year, I knew it was a matter of time before the percentages evened out the other way. If nothing else, I learned that it is better to be timely than good!
You're the only Duke player to win both the NCAA championship and an NBA title. How do they compare/differ?
I feel special, because I know how many great players come through my alma mater. They are both vastly different for me. I was the captain of the team and an All-American at Duke, so there is something special about being the captain of the ship and winning. In the NBA, it took me 11 years to win, so the wait makes this one special. Both different, both special.
You caught a bit of flak for being a "flopper" during the Finals. How do you respond to that?
I weigh 215 pounds. I was guarding guys who weighed 270 pounds. There were many battles of physics. I lost those battles.
Tell me one random thought you had during the Finals.
It was special for two of my favorite coaches of all time -- Jeff Van Gundy and Hubie Brown -- were doing the broadcasting for the game. To win when they were there, after all they taught me, was really meaningful to me.
What's next for you and the Heat?
A long, slow victory lap.