This story is part of Only A Game's "Motivations Show," which looked at stories of motivation in sports.
The NBA Finals are underway and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are driven by a mutual goal: claiming the NBA’s ultimate prize – the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Shane Battier spent 13 seasons as an NBA player, but the motivational moment he’ll always remember began with a very — very — short phone call when he was in college.
I needed to believe in myself and more importantly, visualize what I was capable of doing before I was going to be able to go down that journey.Shane Battier
“And all that was left was three role players from the year before – me being one of them – and a bunch of freshmen,” Battier told Only A Game during an interview at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston this spring.
The team needed a leader and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewksi thought Battier was ready. Krzyzewski started calling the 6-foot-8 forward at the office.
“And he would say, ‘Hey, Shane, are you ready to be an All-American next year?’ And I sort of laugh and say, ‘Well, coach.’ And all of a sudden, click, he’d hang up on me."
Battier was a little confused.
“He called back the same time next day and said, ‘Hey Shane, are you ready to average 20 points and grab 10 rebounds a game?’ And I say, ‘Well, coach.’ Click. Hang up on me again.”
Fool Shane Battier once, shame on Coach K. Fool Shane Battier twice, shame on Shane Battier.
“Well, I finally wised up the third day. He said, ‘Hey Shane, are you ready to lead us to a national championship?’ And I said, ‘Yes, coach I am,'" Battier said. "I needed to believe in myself and more importantly, visualize what I was capable of doing before I was going to be able to go down that journey.”
Coach K’s poor phone etiquette worked. That season Battier earned All-American honors. Then as a senior, he helped guide Duke to the 2001 national title.
When he made it to the NBA, Battier chased championship glory for much longer. He spent a decade playing for Memphis and Houston before landing with the Miami Heat and reaching the NBA Finals.
Playing a key role as a compliment to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Battier claimed two title rings. But last year, when he turned 35, Battier's drive dried up.
“If it were just about playing games, I’d play forever. Games are the best part, but there’s so much that goes into preparing for a game, I just didn’t have the discipline anymore. The time spent in the offseason gettin’ shape, working on your skills, taking care of your body, the ice bags, the stretching, the yoga," said Battier, who now works as a broadcaster. "It’s a huge time suck, especially with two kids [ages] 6 and 3, and there are other things I want to accomplish in this world, not just basketball.”
And this time Battier won't need a call from Coach K to figure out his next move.
This segment aired on June 6, 2015.