Heat forward Shane Battier saves best game for last


Shane Battier, whose role was reduced at times during the playoffs because of a shooting slump, rediscovered his touch in Game 7 of the Finals.


One of the lasting images of the Heat’s 2012 championship parade was a photograph of Shane Battier standing on a float with a presidential smile splashed across his face, a wooden ladle in one hand and a metal pan in the other. The picture is part of a collage of celebratory photos that line the Heat’s “Hall of Champions,” the walkway that leads from the locker room to the court.

It’s time for some new championship wallpaper.

After an epic performance in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Battier will be one of the Heat’s most celebrated stars Monday when the team’s 2013 NBA championship victory parade begins rolling in downtown Miami.

After the day is done, Battier will have a new celebratory photograph ready to slap on the walls inside the arena.

The parade starts at 11 a.m. at the corner of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Eighth Street and will travel east on “Calle Ocho” before turning north on Brickell Avenue. From there it’s on to Biscayne Boulevard Way and then north again on Biscayne Boulevard towards AmericanAirlines Arena. Arrive early to avoid traffic, and remember: no backpacks by order of the Miami Police Department.

Cameras, on the other hand, are strongly encouraged, and the Heat’s players will be documenting the occasion for home movies just like fans.

From Battier’s perspective, the parade will be the closing scene of a postseason that played out like a Hollywood script. Over the final month of the season, Battier went from trusted reserve and one of the first players off the bench with the Heat’s second rotation, to a benched and broken veteran at the end of the Eastern Conference finals, to an unlikely hero of Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Consider these numbers: Battier went 2 of 15 from three-point range in the Eastern Conference finals and didn’t even play in Game 7 of the series.

In the final game of the postseason, Game 7 against the Spurs, Battier was 6 of 8 from beyond the three-point arc and scored 18 points in 28 minutes 42 seconds of action. In other words, he made three times as many three-pointers in the most important game of the season as he did throughout the first six games against Indiana.

At one point in the playoffs, Battier was shooting 20 percent from the field, but none of that matters now. He finished strong, going 9 of 12 from three-point range in Games 6 and 7 of the Finals.

“I’ve maintained — last year I had a horrific shooting slump to start the year,” Battier said. “My mantra was I’ll regress to the mean. And I believe in that. I knew that my shooting was not indicative of the numbers that I put up last year, and very similarly to the stretch right now. I know I’m a better shooter than my numbers put up.

“A lot goes into it. I thought I had some open looks the last two games. When I have open looks, I expect to make them. And I did.”

Ultimately, coach Erik Spoelstra went away from Battier in the Eastern Conference finals because his shot wasn’t falling, but more went into the decision to sit Battier for Game 7 than his slump. Udonis Haslem played a key factor against the bigger Pacers, and his gritty play and hot hand demanded more minutes. Plus, Spoelstra had another option at his disposal from the outside in Mike Miller.

“We talk about team,” said Haslem, who later stepped aside against the Spurs in a series that dictated an entirely different set of matchup problems. “This was the ultimate team. Each round, each game, each series, somebody else stepped up to help this team reach its ultimate goal, and somebody had to sacrifice in order for that to happen.

“That’s what we do. We stepped back and let somebody else take over when we needed to, we stepped up when we needed to, whatever it took to get it done.”

In Game 7, it was Battier’s turn, and afterwards he even acknowledged that at some point during his amazing run he felt a little bit like Miller, who made seven three-pointers in the series-clinching Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals.

For the Heat to win the championship and survive one of the most grueling final months any team has endured in NBA history, it took a complete team effort. And now Monday is here, and it’s time to celebrate that togetherness.

“I love to see my city come together,” Haslem said. “There’s no more unity than when we win the championship and those people get together for that parade to cheer us on.”

Make a wish

Searching for that perfect memento to remember the Heat’s 2013 NBA championship?

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida has teamed up with the NBA and the Heat to produce 5,000 officially licensed basketballs to commemorate one of the greatest postseasons in South Florida sports history.

The basketballs are $99 and proceeds will be used to fund Make-A-Wish Foundation Southern Florida, which grants wishes for local Make-A-Wish children, many of whom have life-threatening medical conditions. To order, fans can call 1-800-345-2868 or visit sfla.wish.org.

Executive decision

Another championship means another trip to the White House for the Heat. President Barack Obama called Spoelstra after the championship to congratulate the Heat and invite the team back to the White House. According to the White House’s official transcript of the call, “the President noted the Heat’s relentless determination in what was an historic season for the team and their MVP, LeBron James.”

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