It could be called a serendipitous decision. Luck, chance or just pure smarts that the Grizzlies called their very first draft pick back to his domain and the crowd and city natives were pleased. It could be called a serendipitous decision. Luck, chance or just pure smarts that the Grizzlies called their very first draft pick back to his domain and the crowd and city natives were pleased.
|Just call Shane Battier a fan-favorite, again. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)|
Battier was traded to the Houston Rockets on draft night in June 2006 for Rudy Gay. So what better way to introduce Battier right before the game than to have Gay call him onto the floor? The two embraced.
Battier says he plans to keep Gay’s spot warm until his return and he will then back him up. When asked how it felt to be on the floor again, he was elated.
“It was awesome,” Battier said. “My initial reaction was to take it in, soak it in. No one gets this kind of ovation. Then after about two seconds I realized, ‘I have no idea what I am doing out here. I hope I do not embarrass myself.’”
The crowd made sure he felt the love. Battier took his first two shots and the crowd sighed and followed with loud claps. On the third attempt he made the basket and the energy from the crowd radiated down onto the court.
Head Coach Lionel Hollins drew upon the crowd’s energy to bring the Grizzlies’ tenacity back into the game.
“When Shane (Battier) got in the game they (the crowd) really got into it,” Hollins said. “A lot of people really respect the way he plays and what he brings to the community. When we were struggling I thought if I throw him in the game as early as possible, and see if we can get the crowd behind us, we’d feed off the crowd to play like we needed to play and we did.”
Battier played with a second unit including O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur, Jason Williams and Hamed Haddadi. He finished with two points, two rebounds, three assists and three blocks in 25 minutes. Combined, these five players scored 48 points.
“It is going to take a few games to understand everything, but my job is to come here and just play hard,” Battier said. “Play hard and make basketball plays. My performance has never been about stats. It is about making as many basketball plays and my stable presence in the locker room and on the court. Everything else will come with time.”
During his four-plus years in Houston, Battier earned consecutive appearances on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. He intends to keep the pressure on here in Memphis.
“We are thrilled to have acquired a player of Shane’s caliber as we make a push toward the playoffs,” said Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace.
“Shane is remembered fondly in our Memphis community for his contributions to the franchise’s prior postseason runs, and we expect that his combination of shooting, defense and leadership will be key ingredients in helping us get back there. We are also pleased to add Ishmael Smith, who has a bright future in this league.”
The 6-8, 220-pound forward holds career averages of 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.10 steals on .444 shooting in 744 games in 10 NBA seasons with the Grizzlies and Rockets.
The game also reunited Battier and Williams who both led the Grizzlies to their NBA playoff stints.
“It really was a throwback night – a retro night,” Hollins said.