Across all sports, the truism holds: You can start your championship picture with stars, but if you dont finish it with role players, youll just have an unfinished masterpiece.
Even applying impressionist standards, last seasons Heat picture lacked a canny defender who could annoy the opposing offense, take a charge, and knock in a few long-range jumpers to loosen up defenses for the Heats Big 3. It lacked what James Posey gave the Heats 2006 NBA champions throughout the season and in the playoffs.
Thats what Shane Battier provided in the playoffs to help complete the Heats 2012 championship picture.
This is a true team, Battier said at Mondays championship celebration. You look up and down the roster. We have some big names that are really, really, really good.
Battier looked over at Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and said, Thank you for a championship.
Then, he finished by saying, Everybody knew if we played our role, wed be the best team.
During the 2005-06 regular season, Posey led the Heat in three-point shooting percentage, was second in three-pointers made and second behind forward Udonis Haslem in charges taken. The playoffs were the same, except Posey led in charges drawn, an amazing 11 of the Heats 25.
Battiers regular season, his first with the Heat, saw him shoot a career-worst 37.9 percent from the field and a near-worst 33.9 from three-point range. But in the playoffs, he led the Heat in three-pointers with 42, shot 38.2 percent from beyond the arc and took charge after charge. He went from role player to starter, logging 10 more minutes per game than in the regular season.
And Battiers timing, more than just his points, seemed impeccable: the loose balls he tracked down in Game 5 against the Knicks; the bank-shot three-pointer in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, his fifth of the game that helped hold off a massive Oklahoma City comeback; drawing a charge on Kevin Durant to help get the Thunders best player in foul trouble; hitting all three free throws when fouled on a three-point attempt to ignite a game-turning 15-2 run in Game3.
Also, Battier played defense on shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards, especially after Chris Boshs abdominal strain took him out for five games. James said Monday moving Battier down low gave the Heat the lineup they needed.
Were in the NBA Finals, an unbelievable opportunity, the reason why every one of us is here, the chance to win a championship, Battier said. Once we got a chance to call ourselves the champs, we werent going to let the opportunity go. Were there, we were going to go down sinwging.
But a team is more than just a collection of physical talents. Its a melding of personalities.
Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden wrote in his book The Game, Each team, each player on a team, is a web of dependencies, personal and professional, positive and negative.
You have to have all types to create a full picture.