Shane Battier on his Duke career and post-basketball life

Former Duke great and NBA veteran reflects on his career

Jeremy Brevard—USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10

Shane Battier is one of 13 Duke basketball players to have his number retired. The leader of the 2001 national champion Blue Devils, Battier was the consensus national player of the year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player as a senior.He was drafted sixth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and played 13 years in the NBA with Memphis, Houston and Miami. He won two NBA titles with the Heat.Now two years away from basketball, Battier reflected on his career at Duke and in the NBA and discussed his post-basketball life.NSJ: You’ve spent the last two seasons as a commentator for ESPN. Will we see you in that role again?Shane Battier: “Not unless I go on Celebrity Jeopardy. That’s probably the only time you’re going to see me in front of a television camera any time soon. I checked that box off my list, and there’s a lot more I want to do in the world than just look good in a suit.”NSJ: What do you plan on doing?SB: “What don’t I have in mind? I’m exploring a lot of consulting work. I do a lot in the sports technology space, dealing with issues related to big data and privacy, which is a really interesting field and has a wide range of implications, especially at the collegiate level. I’m doing some management consulting, exploring a mentorship role with younger people, millennials, young NBA players. I’m exploring transition topics with executives who are looking toward retirement. These are all things I’ve had experience with. I’m 38. I’ve retired. I’ve had success. I’ve struggled. I’ve done it all. So I’m in a lot of things, but the common theme is I’m here to help people. That’s what I’ve found has been the most inspiring and gets me out of bed in the morning.”NSJ: Now that you’re not on the road 41 games a year, has that helped you be more involved with your kids’ sports careers?SB: “I coached [my eight-year-old son] in flag football. I was lucky. My dad never pressured me to work out or to coach me. He was my baseball coach and my football coach, but never my basketball coach. He was really hands off and let me figure it out. That’s what I’m trying to do. I see so many bad examples of over-parenting when it comes to sorts, especially when it comes to youth sports today. I’m trying to set an example for my son and daughter. Hey, there are some things you’ve got to figure out. I’m here to help you if you have questions, and I’ll work with you and throw you the ball until my arm falls off, but have fun. Enjoy the game. You have plenty of time to grind like I did. That was pretty awesome though, being a flag football coach.”NSJ: Is it hard serving in a role like that when you’re such a familiar face to people?SB: “I think the novelty has worn off in Miami. People see me in the carpool line and at Whole Foods. I’m a suburban dad, like everybody else. Every now and then, people get excited, but I’ve been around so much that it’s no big deal anymore.”NSJ: What are your best memories of the 2001 Duke team?SB: “That was a tough group of dudes. We had five [future] pros and some really, really talented players. We had a toughness about our group that allowed for us to have real conversations. There wasn’t a lot of conjecture or mincing of words. We were able to talk to each other, communicate and demand out of each other, ‘Look, do your job.’ The accountability we all held each other to was special. I haven’t played with too many teams like that, ever. When you have talent, accountability and toughness, the sky is the limit, and it was with that team.”I’m very proud to call myself a Duke basketball alum. If you spend time with anyone who’s played in this program — the K Era, the pre-K era — there’s just a common understanding of playing in Cameron, going to school here, what it takes to be successful. If you made it through, you’ve done something. It’s something we’re all very, very proud of. It’s really special.”NSJ: Is there a difference between the closeness of a Duke team and a pro team?SB: “It’s a little bit different, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same. The cars and houses are probably a little nicer at the pro level. But every team you play on, it’s like a big AAU trip. It’s the same knuckleheads. It’s the same jokes. It’s the same highs, the same lows. When you’re in college, you’re trying to figure out how to become a man. You’re on a different path, a different track. In the pros, everyone is in a different part of their life. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of tomfoolery but a lot of great things.”NSJ: What are your best memories from your NBA career?SB: “I was lucky. I loved every stop along the way for me. When I was a rookie playing in Memphis, my first year in Memphis was the team’s first year in Memphis. So we sort of grew up together. We lost our first 13 games. I lost more games by Thanksgiving than I did in four years at Duke, but we turned that situation around to make the playoffs three straight years, which I’m so proud of.”In Houston, we had an amazing group of guys. We didn’t have a lot of postseason success, because of injuries, but it was a really, really tough group that I love. Those are my beer drinking buddies.”In Miami, it was an unbelievable run. You knew you had a chance to win every single night. I felt like I was back at Duke. I’m proud, because every stop, I had the goal is to take that team as far as they can go. In Memphis, it was just to make the playoffs. In Miami, it was to win a championship. I think along the way, we always maximized our team. I’m very proud of that.”