The first thing that Miami Heat forward Shane Battier said on a conference call promoting the American Century Championship in July was: "It's a different conference call for me because I'm usually taking this conference call from the golf course, because I'm usually out of the playoffs by now."
Battier was in Indiana on Wednesday evening, prior to the Heat's game six against the Pacers. Miami won on Thursday 105-93, closing out the series and putting themselves in position for another shot at the NBA championship. Battier would like nothing more than to step onto the course at Edgewood Tahoe on July 17-22 as a first-time champion.
"There is very few places in the world as beautiful as Lake Tahoe, and it's my dream to go there as an NBA champion," he said. "I remember seeing Jason Kidd there last year as an NBA champion and just the smile on his face, you could tell it had been there for a few weeks ever since they had won the championship against the Miami Heat last year. I think that would be a huge thrill to go amongst the big boys, the stars of the stars, and be an NBA champion.
"At this point it's not about numbers, it's not about contracts. This is my eleventh year in the league. I have about two or three years left to play at this level, it's what I need and what I play for. It's something that I really, really want."
What did Battier say when he saw Kidd at the tourney last year?
"I didn't have to say anything, just the smile on his face and he said it was an unbelievable experience and he really couldn't put into words," Battier said. "It's something that I think all first-time champions go through; you don't really understand what being a champion is all about until you actually call yourself a champion, and I had that feeling back when I played at Duke in 2001 and I would like that feeling again as a member of the Miami Heat."
With a shortened season and packed schedule, Battier said his only golfing so far this year has consisted of hitting one bucket of balls.
"I'm behind in my golf preparation without a doubt, but that's not saying much because the baseline is low as it is," Battier said.
The NBA veteran admitted that he does not like to practice golf, but said there was some crossover between the two sports.
"When I step on the basketball court, I've trained over tens of thousands of hours for my job, it's what I do and I feel confident I can do that job well. Golf isn't something that comes natural to me. I don't like to practice. I love to play, I don't love to practice. So when I get out there I don't have the repetitions I have on the basketball court," Battier said. "I'm not gonna lie, the first time you step out on the first tee and you're overlooking the mountains and the lake, beautiful Lake Tahoe, you do get a little bit of sweaty palms and the knees to shake a bit.
"A lot of things resonate with me as a basketball player, because swings and basketball jump shots are very similar. They have to be in sync and they have to be fluid and they have to be performed without thinking about the actual mechanics. And that's what makes a pure golf swing and that's what makes a pure jump shot. Sometimes you can over-think a jump shot, just like you can over-think a golf swing."
Battier will join various other celebrities at Edgewood on July 17-22 for the ACC. Tickets are on sale online now and go on sale June 1 at Raley's, Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods. To purchase online, go to: southtahoe.activitytickets.com. Tickets will also be sold at the gate.