Vito Corleone and Shane Battier have something in common.
In the classic film The Godfather II, the fictional character Vito Andolini was born in Corleone, a small town in the province of Palermo in Italy.
After mobsters killed his parents, Vito, still a young boy, fled to Italy on a cargo ship.
Once he arrived in New York, he was renamed Vito Corleone because the immigration officials at Ellis Island mistook “Andolini” as his middle name and “Corleone” as his last name.
Meanwhile, under normal circumstances, Battier, the Heat’s real-life forward, would have had the last name of Battle.
“I’m a first-generation Battier,” he said.
His father was born Eddie Battle. But the confusion began when the letters after B-A-T-T on his birth certificate where scribbled illegibly.
Still, Battle went by his given name until he enlisted in the army.
“My dad shows up the first day and says: ‘Private Battle reporting for duty,’ ” Battier said. “The sergeant said: ‘Uncle Sam says your name is Battier.’ So my dad rolled with it, and he was now Eddie Battier.”
The story of the Battier name was told after Heat practice Thursday. That’s because Battier will use the occasion of NBA “nickname nights” to honor his father’s original name.
The first of those four nickname nights is Jan. 10 against the Brooklyn Nets, and that’s when fans will see “Battle” where they are accustomed to seeing “Battier.”
Known as “Batman” by his teammates, Battier said nickname night will give him a chance to right a wrong.
“It’s unfortunate the U.S. government had to change the course of history for the Battle family,” he said. “But I plan to pay tribute to my Battle roots.”
Heat forward Udonis Haslem, who has missed the past two games because of back spasms, practiced Thursday for the first time in nearly a week.
It is uncertain whether Haslem will be able to play Friday when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Heat.
“Udonis is able to do work,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We will see how he responds to this workout.”
Haslem, who has been dealing with back pain since the season opener against the Chicago Bulls, said he never had this particular injury in prior seasons.
He also said he felt fine after Thursday’s workout and was hopeful he would be cleared by trainers in time for Friday’s game.
Allen is ill
Shooting guard Ray Allen is still ill and was kept away from the team’s facility Thursday.
“Ray is recovering,” Spoelstra said. “He is starting to feel a little better. I think he is starting to turn the corner.”
Spoelstra spoke Thursday about his team’s depth and the players’ mental ability to handle reduced roles.
“You can go down the list of guys who are coming off the bench for us,” he said, “and you can make a case that any one of them could have larger roles with another team.
“And that’s not what this team is about. Sometimes a larger role on another team isn’t as significant as if you have small minutes on a team like this that has a chance to contend.”