Shane Battier opens up about his friendly rivalry with longtime pal Mike Dunleavy.
By CHRIS TOMASSONFS Florida
MIAMI — Shane Battier apparently kept getting calls from Mike Krzyzewski, his coach at Duke.
Voice messages were left a few years ago for Battier that seemed strange. It was suggested he should drop Peak as the Chinese shoe he wears and how he was taking too many 3-pointers and drawing too many charges.
For those who know the Miami Heat forward, his outside shot and crafty defensive skills are the two best parts of his game.
“He called me and said, “Coach has been calling,’’’ recalls Milwaukee Bucks forward
Mike Dunleavy, Battier’s former teammate at Duke. “Of course, I just lost it and started laughing so hard because I got him.’’
Let Dunleavy explain what had transpired.
“There’s an app you can get that goes right to somebody’s voice mail so you don’t have to let it ring,’’ Dunleavy said. “I called him up a few times pretending I was Coach K and wanted him to do all sorts of stupid stuff… I told him stuff like that shoe endorser, the Chinese company, is not cutting it. I told him to needs to do stuff on the court, like he’s shooting too many 3-pointers or stop taking charges, just to mess with him.’’
There is a difference of opinion, though, just how much Battier was messed with. Battier claims Dunleavy is providing a “tall tale’’ and he “might have played along with that’’ while knowing it really wasn’t Krzyzewski calling.
Whatever the truth is, Dunleavy and Battier have some time now to argue about it. The best friends are facing each other in an Eastern Conference first-round series.
Dunleavy said it's a bit awkward going against Battier in the playoffs for the first time while Battier considers it less of a big deal. It’s no wonder Battier feels that way considering his Heat are resounding favorites and walloped the Bucks 110-87 in Game 1.
Dunleavy and Battier have been tight since 1999, when Dunleavy entered Duke as a freshman and Battier was a junior. The two were roommates in 2000-01, when the Blue Devils won the NCAA title.
Battier entered the NBA in 2001 and Dunleavy in 2002. Since both have been in the league, their families have vacationed together each All-Star break. Last February, they went to Turks and Caicos.
“They’re really close,’’ said Dunleavy’s father, Mike Dunleavy Sr., a former NBA player and coach. “They’re like brothers. Right when they met at Duke, they obviously hit it off.’’
Yes, they did. But Battier admits it wasn’t always tranquil.
“He’s my best friend and the funniest person I know,’’ Battier said. “When we were roommates (at Duke), we got to know each other very well. But I’m the neat freak and it used to drive me crazy that he always left his oatmeal just lying out. I‘d say, ‘I’m not your maid.’ I’m much more organized and he’s much more laid back and just goes with the flow.’’
Dunleavy, who agrees with his father that the two “are as close as brothers,’’ said he bonded with Battier when he was hosted by him on a recruiting visit to Duke. He said he deserves some credit for getting Battier, a self-professed nerd, to loosen up a bit in college.
“While he was cleaning up the oatmeal bowls for me, at the same time I was encouraging him to do things like stay out past 10 p.m., have a good time and maybe have a couple of adult beverages,’’ Dunleavy said.
Since the two both entered the NBA, they try to see each other when they can. Dunleavy was in Battier’s wedding in the summer of 2003 when he was married to Heidi. Dunleavy, then with Golden State, said he missed a game or two in the summer league and the “Warriors weren’t too happy, but they didn’t have a choice.’’
Battier was in Dunleavy’s wedding when he married Sarah in 2008 in New Jersey. The Dunleavys, who have two children, make their offseason home in New York City, while the Battiers, who also have two children, live in the Detroit area during the offseason.
The two visit each other during summers. They keep in constant touch during the NBA season, often by having wacky contests along with mutual friends while trying to one-up each other.
“We had a pool called the March Mental Madness Tournament,’’ Battier said. “We had to draft five players from teams in the NIT, five from the CBI (a minor college tournament), five from the CIT (also minor) and five from double-digit NCAA seeds. With those 20 guys, whoever scored the most combined points won.
“Then we had a Masters pool. We had to pick a team of five guys and whoever had the highest combined score, not the lowest, but highest, in the tournament won. So you had to find guys who made the cut but blew up on Saturday and Sunday.’’
While Battier said another friend won the basketball pool, Battier grudgingly said Dunleavy claimed the Masters pool thanks to having selected Guan Tianlang, the Chinese 14-year-old who finished 12 over.
But there was a recent competition involving Dunleavy that Battier won, giving him some minor money, but major bragging rights.
“We had a stupid thing on picking who would be the next pope,’’ Dunleavy said of Pope Francis being selected last month. “I’m disappointed to say that he won but, as he likes to point out, he was a religion major (at Duke), so he should know better.’’
The two also compete in the Bruin Lake Fantasy Football League, named after a recreation spot in Michigan. Battier serves as commissioner of the league, which he originally had founded with some longtime friends.
“This past year, Mike won the DFL patch,’’ Battier said with pride. “That stands for ‘Dead Frickin’ Last.’ So he’s going to get a big pink patch that says ‘DFL’ that he will have to wear on an article of clothing.’’
Dunleavy unsuccessfully protested losing a tiebreaker that landed him in last place. He accuses Battier of “changing the rules each year to benefit his team.’’
The two also have argued about who would win in Jeopardy! After Battier declared last November he could beat any NBA player on the game show, Dunleavy begged to differ and said he would defeat Battier.
“Actually, I would beat them both,’’ said Bucks guard J.J. Redick, who played at Duke from 2002-06, when asked to pick a winner between the two. “But I’m going to go with Mike. I think Shane’s reasoning was that his pop culture is better, which is just so random. I don’t buy that.’’
Despite their competitiveness, Redick said Battier and Dunleavy are genuine friends. He said that at various Duke functions over the years the two always hang out together.
But now they’re truly on opposite sides. Both are determined not to let their friendship get in the way during the playoffs.
“We might be best friends, but he won’t hesitate to put me in the scorer’s table and I wouldn’t hesitate to put in the front row if it means a possession,’’ said Battier, who averaged 6.6 points during the regular season.
The two forwards will run into each other plenty during the series. For now, both are trying to make up for mediocre outings in Sunday's Game 1. Both scored just five points, with Battier shooting 1 of 8 and Dunleavy 2 of 4.
“Obviously, it’s a little odd to compete against each other in something this big, but we’ll make the most of it,’’ said Dunleavy, who averaged 10.9 points this season. “As Shane says, ‘May the best man win.’ I’m sure he feels pretty good.’’
Even if the Bucks get wiped out, there still might be hope for Dunleavy. Maybe a photographer will come up with an image that goes down in Battier-Dunleavy lore.
“My rookie year, he was on Memphis and I was with Golden State,’’ Dunleavy recalls. “There was a picture of me driving the lane and he came over and blocked my shot. So after the season, he blew it up and framed it and sent it to me as a postseason gift. As bad as I wanted to throw it away, I actually put it on my wall. But maybe I’ll get him back one of these days and send him back one.’’
Dunleavy at least has three more games in this series to try to one-up his buddy.