The No-Stats Basketball All-Star

I enjoyed reading this article about Houston Rockets basketball player Shane Battier. Although he doesn’t have the stats to prove it, apparently when Battier is on the court, his own team plays significantly better and the opposing team plays worse.

Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win …

Battier’s game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly ­reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates — probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways.

“I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together. And everything that leads to winning that you can get to through intellect instead of innate ability, Shane excels in. I’ll bet he’s in the hundredth percentile of every category.”

Battier reminds me of the many people in church situations who serve quietly behind the scenes. Because they are not up front, you may not notice them a lot; but the whole church runs more smoothly as a result of their service.


  1. Don Johnston says:

    Hi Ray,
    That was a great article about Shane Battier. I remember he was a star in college, but apparently as a professional, he is more of a “secret weapon” instead of a standout. I think that is a good illustration of how God’s people should have a positive affect wherever we are…on the job, in the classroom, on a ball field or court, and certainly in the church. I think of Joseph and how Potiphar recognized things went so much better after Joseph got there. He saw his work ethic, creativity, and cheerful spirit, and realized he was invaluable to him. Yes, our faith in the narrow way of salvation through Christ alone is offensive to some, but our goal should be that we “Let our light so shine before men that they see our GOOD works, and glorify our Father in Heaven”. As someone has said, “we must be winsome to win some”. We need more “Battier believers” to step up to the plate for the cause of Christ!!

    Don Johnston

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Don – Great thoughts as usual. You have a great way with words. Ever thought of starting a blog? (Warning: It is time consuming – but fun!)

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