Shane Battier: “We can’t afford to go through what the NFL is going through”
by Chris Fedor
Just like the NFL, the players and owners in the NBA couldn’t come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement before the clock struck midnight on the old agreement. Because of that, the NBA has shut down their business and they have gone into lockout mode. While the NFL lockout has been a tiring process, it has been a long process, and there has been a lot of back and forth, it appears the NBA lockout might last even longer.
It would be a huge mistake for the NBA to miss any games. Right now the league is at the pinnacle of it’s popularity. There are young stars all over the place, there is a villain team that people around the country like to hate, and the league is coming off one of the most memorable NBA Finals ever with Mavericks taking down the Heat. As the NBA tries to compete with MLB to become the second favorite sport in the United States a lockout at this time could cost the league dearly. Shane Battier joined WFAN in New York with Joe and Evan to talk about the season Memphis had, what kind of teammate Zach Randolph is, what he made of LeBron James’ failures in the NBA Finals, if he thinks a team loaded with stars like Miami is the way to go, whether or not he thinks a new CBA will get done, and what he thinks the main issues are right now in the labor talks.
Whether or not they knew they would go as far as they did in the playoffs:
“We knew that we had a favorable matchup in the Spurs. Did we think we could beat them and take the Thunder in second round to seven games? I’d be lying to say I knew that was going to happen. We knew we had a chance against the Spurs. We felt that we matched up great against them. We were younger and we were more athletic. After we won that first game in San Antonio, we all looked at each other and said ‘hey guys we can do this.’ We went on a magical run, the city was behind us, it was simply electric, and it was a fantastic lightning in a bottle run for us.”
If he thinks Zach Randolph has matured:
“The beauty about sports, it doesn’t matter what sport you play, you win a few games and do it on the main stage, it’s amazing how your reputation and your image changes. Zach is a great player, he’s a pretty good guy and I’ve known him for ten years now, he’s a ten year veteran and I think he’s grown up a lot. He’s probably done some things in the past that he regrets, but he’s matured. He was simply fantastic for us and a great locker room guy. That’s not something you would say about Zach Randolph five or six years ago.”
On LeBron’s struggles in the NBA Finals:
“I thought that, first of all you have to give Erik Spoelstra a lot of credit because it is tough to have to coach two of the top three players in the league because there is only one basketball. I think you saw it in the Chicago series, whoever had the hot hand that’s who had the ball in the fourth quarter. In the Chicago series it was LeBron. LeBron played great. Then in the Dallas series Dwyane Wade had it going and so with those two guys one of them is going to be standing looking at the other going to work. I think that’s what happened. LeBron is tough. I mean come on. For me he is a top two player in the league, right there with Kobe as the toughest player to defend in the league. I thought the criticism was a little unfair, but he’ll be back. He’ll be back and the Heat are going to be there to contend the next five or six years.”
Whether or not a team like Miami loaded with stars is the way to go in the NBA:
“Talent wins. Bottom line. You can talk all about the rah rah, the camaraderie, the Kumbaya, but in the NBA talent always wins. It may not be good enough to win a championship every single year but you’re going to be in the discussion.”
If he thinks a new deal will get done in the NBA:
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will get something done before missing any games. We all know what’s at stake. We can’t afford to go through what the NFL is going through and we can’t afford to lose the fans. I just think we have a perspective after going through this in ’99 that it’s in the best interest of everybody to hammer out a fair deal.”
On the things that are becoming an issue in the labor talks:
“I don’t know the ins and outs of the flex cap. I think it’s a pretty clever term by Commissioner Stern. The main issues for us are the revenue sharing amongst the big market teams and the small market teams. That will really lead the discussion to what share the players will share with the owners. The league maintains that the revenue sharing is an internal matter and they will take care of it themselves. We think it’s a huge part of the bigger picture, the big collective bargaining discussion. Once we sort of see how the revenues are going to be split amongst the teams I think that will be a huge, huge advantage to getting a deal done.”