Battier, Curry – 2001 picks – arrive in Miami
Shane Battier and Eddy Curry were separated by two picks in the
2001 NBA draft. On Saturday, there was a moment when they weren’t
separated by anything.
The scene: First Miami Heat practice of the season, first day
with the team job for both men. Curry sets a screen, and Battier
comes crashing into him.
Sounded like a one-sided matchup.
”I won’t be doing that again,” Battier said afterward. ”You
hope that he’s matured enough to understand that he’s got a great
The Heat know that’s not an issue for Battier. They hope Curry
is willing to come along on the same ride.
All but out of the league for the last three seasons, Curry’s
contract was completed early Saturday, not long before he, Battier,
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat took
the court for the team’s first full practice of training camp. A
slew of Miami signees and training-camp hopefuls were in the
building Friday getting checked out and deals completed, but only
six players were cleared for what became a shooting session
disguised as the first workout.
Saturday, the work got real for the reigning Eastern Conference
”I feel good,” Curry said, his sweat pooling on the floor
where he stood and spoke after Miami’s practice ended. ”Obviously,
these guys are at a whole other level here. So I’ve got some work
to do, but I’m willing to do it. I’m a lot closer than what I
thought I would be. I feel good, I’m going to give it my all and
I’m going to try to help these guys win some games.”
The early assessment from Curry’s new teammates: He can help.
Curry wouldn’t say what he weighs – he was last listed at 295
pounds or so – but said he’s dropped 70 pounds to get ready for
this chance with Miami.
After playing in only 10 games over the past three seasons, the
Heat signed Curry for about $1 million, a classic low-risk,
”Obviously, when he was healthy and playing at his peak form,
he was a power in the paint,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”He
really was. … So that’s what this is about. It’s about an
opportunity. He had a very good day today.”
James and Wade have known Curry for years, and much as they
reached out to help recruit Battier, they made sure Curry knew they
wanted him, too.
”He’s humbled and he’s blessed to have this opportunity
again,” James said. ”For us as teammates, we’re just going to
stress the fact that he has no pressure at all. We’re happy to have
him here and we want him to just love the game of basketball like
he did once before. You can see his smile. You can see his passion.
And we’re happy. We’re excited as a team but we’re more excited for
Excited pretty much sums up what Battier was feeling on the
first night teams could contact him as a free agent.
For a team that spoke of upgrading at point guard and center
this offseason, their first move was to reach out to someone who
plays neither position – and Battier was duly impressed. He’s been
close with the family of Heat owner Micky Arison for years; Nick
Arison, the owner’s son and the new Heat CEO, was Duke’s team
manager when Battier played for the Blue Devils, and they were
together for the team’s run to the 2001 NCAA title.
Never mind that he once handled Battier’s sweaty workout
clothes. Nick Arison is now Battier’s boss.
”Nick probably has better stories about our shenanigans back at
Duke than I can tell you here today,” Battier said. ”But Nick’s
been a friend. And I’ve always respected what Nick has done
personally and professionally. When you have a chance to do
something special, it’s always better – and it always feels more
special – when you get to do whatever that journey is with people
you enjoy and respect and like.”
Battier will earn $9 million over three years. He could have
made more money elsewhere, as James, Wade, Bosh, Udonis Haslem and
Mike Miller all could have when they signed deals with Miami last
So in that respect, Battier is already fitting into one part of
the Heat culture.
”He took a pay cut to be here,” Wade said. ”That doesn’t go
unnoticed here in Miami. It might go unnoticed elsewhere, but here
in Miami, we appreciate that.”
Heat President Pat Riley said that even though other teams could
offer Battier more dollars, he thought the combination of being
part of a championship-contending club and a reunion with the
Arison family would be tough for the former Memphis and Houston
swingman to ignore.
In the end, he was right.
”I thought we had a good shot for the reasons that I felt he
would want to come here,” Riley said. ”I thought he would
probably want to play on a great team … an opportunity to win a
championship. As he said, a lot of guys will say, `I’d like to go
play for a championship,’ but they’re not talking about role. He’s
going to have a very specific role here.”
Notes: The Heat completed their training camp roster by signing
forward Derrick Byars, guards Cameron Jones, Jeremy Wise and Terrel
Harris and center Mickell Gladness, who was in Miami’s camp a year
ago. … G Eddie House said there’s no timetable for his return
from surgery on his left knee last month, though he was in practice
gear and shooting on Saturday, as was G-F Mike Miller (hernia
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