Shane Battier For President


Original photo credit: Dan Winters, New York Times

Before President Obama entered the national spotlight, there was Shane Battier, the man who I believed would be this nation’s first biracial President  (like the President, Battier’s father is black).

This belief of mine first germinated back when Battier played basketball at Duke, where he dominated the college game. In ’01, he won all the major awards while leading his team to the national title.

Aside from his on-court excellence, Battier when interviewed, though a college student, already sounded presidential. He’s speech was graced with candor, eloquence, and grace.

Of course, we got to see plenty of him since in the words of former UVA coach Pete Gillick, “certainly Duke is Duke, they’re on TV more than Leave it to Beaver re-runs…”, but I digress.

Now that he plays for my (adopted) hometown Houston Rockets, I’ve gotten to hear Battier interviewed on local sports radio, and the man is as smooth as ever.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who had similar thoughts regarding Battier and the presidency. Dan Wetzel, a writer with The Basketball Times back in 1996, is quoted as saying,

I thought he’d be the first black president. He was Barack Obama before Barack Obama.

The quote comes from an outstanding canonization piece on Battier by Michael Lewis of the New York Times: The No-Stats All-Star

In it, Wetzel tells a story from Battier’s senior year in high school, in which many top programs were recruiting him,

Battier narrowed his choices to six schools — Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan and Michigan State — and told everyone else, politely, to leave him be.

He then set out to minimize the degree to which the chosen schools could interfere with his studies; he had a 3.96 G.P.A. and was poised to claim Detroit Country Day School’s headmaster’s cup for best all-around student.

He granted each head coach a weekly 15-minute window in which to phone him. These men happened to be among the most famous basketball coaches in the world and the most persistent recruiters, but Battier granted no exceptions.

When the Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, who had just won a national championship, tried to call Battier outside his assigned time, Battier simply removed Kentucky from his list. “What 17-year-old has the stones to do that?” Wetzel asks.

“To just cut off Rick Pitino because he calls outside his window?” Wetzel answers his own question: “It wasn’t like, ‘This is a really interesting 17-year-old.’ It was like, ‘This isn’t real.’ ”

Shane Battier in ’16?

The San Antonio Spurs: Lovable Winners

Houston sports fans (like other fans) have teams that they find easy to dislike. In baseball, it has to be the Cardinals or the Mets, in football it’s going to be the former Oilers, the Tennessee Titans with the Cowboys not far behind.

In the NBA it might be a tossup between the Jazz and the Spurs (at least in my mind). It’s probably the Spurs given the way they have dominated the NBA during the last few years. For a long time Rocket fan might have dangled Houston’s 2 championships in the mid 90s in front of Spurs fan. Not to mention, Hakeem Olajuwon’s schooling of David Robinson during the ’95 playoffs (see below)

But that coupon has long expired given the Spurs’ current run of excellence (Champions in ’99, ’03, ’05, and ’07) during which the Rockets have failed to win a single playoff series.

With all that, for this Rockets fan at least, it is increasingly hard to dislike the current Spurs squad.

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Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian try out for Dancing with the Stars

Or so it would seem…
yao-yi.jpgHouston Chronicle