On every team there is always that one player whose efforts are never appreciated by the rest of the flashy plays and stats driven basketball world.
The player who epitomizes the concept of team work by putting their comrades first, second and third, sacrifice themselves for the good of the team and do all the dirty work that doesn’t receive much praise but is necessary for the team’s success. However, sometimes such a player is recognized and is presented with the Twyman-Stokes Award, after a vote by fellow players.
This season, that player is Shane Battier.
“It is a huge honor,” Battier said.
“It’s probably one of the biggest honors of my life. It means a lot to me, I’ve tried to be a good teammate my entire life.”
Heat Coach, Erik Spoelstra, has described him as the “ultimate teammate” because: "He's selfless. A leader. He'll do whatever it takes. He's playing for his brothers - his teammates."
His role within the Miami Heat is always in constant flux but you never will you hear him complain if one night he plays 30 minutes and doesn’t even get a second for next two games.
Battier has built a reputation as one of the most intelligent and reliable players in the game, having gone over 300 minutes without committing a single turnover. His basketball savvy is most telling on defense though where he is charged with the enviable task of guarding some the game’s most potent scorers, from Kobe Bryant back in the day, to the likes of Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
Despite giving up a whole lot of size and strength, at times, Spoelstra plays him at the power forward spot in his small-ball line-up yet Battier takes the challenge head on and takes a shoulder to the chest and holds his own against bruisers such as David West and other powerhouses in the NBA.
Furthermore, his 27 charges drawn led the Miami Heat and put him third in the Association in behind only Demarcus Cousins (36) and Kyle Lowry (31), even though they averaged nearly twice the amount of game time he saw.
That sort of team first attitude, competitive drive and intelligence have made him a valued member of the two-time defending champions and will no doubt be missed year when he calls it a day at the end of this season.
For now though, his sole focus is on getting by the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference playoffs for an unprecedented fourth straight appearance in the NBA Finals and a shot at becoming only the third franchise in NBA history to win three straight titles.
Here is a breakdown of the voting (with first place votes, total points):
Shane Battier, Miami (67) , 1,322
Al Jefferson, Charlotte (29), 798
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (28), 784
Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (40), 754
Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers (36), 753
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio (14), 739
Channing Frye, Phoenix (24), 568
Andre Iguodala, Golden State (19), 552
Jameer Nelson, Orlando (16), 546
Elton Brand, Atlanta (11), 452
David West, Indiana (16), 447
Mike Dunleavy, Chicago (10), 345
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