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Shane Battier says Duke was more of a hated team than the Heat

Shane Battier knows more than most athletes about being on a team that people despise. A little over a week ago, he won a championship with arguably the most hated team in NBA history. Over a decade ago, Battier cut down the nets with probably the most hated team in college basketball history. The obvious question to ask a guy like Battier is which team receives more negative attention: the Heat or the Blue Devils. His answer may surprise some.

“The biggest difference was when I played at Duke I never saw one Battier jersey in an opposing arena,” Battier said during an interview with WFNZ in Charlotte. “Being the guy at the time, I looked around and never saw one. At least in these arenas that we go to now, in every city there’s some LeBron and Wade jerseys out there so the vitriol was pretty thick but talking to the guys it wasn’t as deep-rooted and as thick as it was a year ago.

“I think people appreciated, if you’re a basketball fan there’s no way you couldn’t appreciate the way our team played especially LeBron and the year that he had, so I think we won a lot of people over with our style of play.”

I disagree. Heat haters are Heat haters — Miami’s style of play didn’t win them over. The difference stems from the fact that college basketball fans are far more rabid than NBA fans. If you go to a playoff game in Miami or anywhere else in the country, you might see guys like Lil Wayne, David Ortiz, Charlie Sheen or Alex Rodriguez sitting under the basket. In college arenas, the stands are loaded with students who want nothing more than to be able to celebrate a championship during their collegiate careers.

Simply put, it’s a matter of loyalty and commitment — not the Heat winning fans over with their style of play. As a whole, college fans simply seem to care more.

Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Serge Ibaka calls Shane Battier a ‘big-time’ flopper (Video)

The refereeing has been a major point of contention during the NBA playoffs this year (any time ESPN hires Steve Javie to be its “referee analyst,” things can’t be all fine and dandy), and the shameful amount of flopping we’ve witnessed has been a big part of that.

So, at Thunder practice on Wednesday, Serge Ibaka was asked by ESPN True Hoop’s Henry Abbott who the biggest flopper in the NBA Finals is, and Ibaka labeled Shane Battier a “big-time” one.

“He is a big-time (flopper) … Every time he’s on the court, he’s tries to flop,” the Thunder big man said. “Before you touch him, he is ready to go, you know. We have to be careful on him because he’s a big-time flopper.”

It’s important to note that Ibaka was asked about Battier rather than he being the one who brought Battier’s name up. But Ibaka was still the one who gave the Heat forward the “big-time” tag. This wouldn’t be the first time a member of the Thunder has been peeved by Battier this series. And we’re only on Game 2.

Ibaka also said the Mario Chalmers and his own teammate Derek Fisher were bad floppers as well. And given their Best Supporting Actor-worthy performances last night, you can’t blame him for that answer.

Russell Westbrook: Shane Battier trying to ‘punk me’ led to second half explosion

The Thunder erased a 13-point deficit to come back and beat the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night, and Russell Westbrook’s monster second half was a big reason why. After scoring a modest nine points in the first half, Westbrook went off for 18 in the second.  He appeared to be playing with a purpose, and the Thunder guard said his exchange with Shane Battier that you see above is what led to that.

“That’s all I need every once in a while,” Westbrook said after the game according to Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t know what he was thinking. I needed something. We needed something.”

Westbrook finished with nearly a triple-double, as he also added 11 assists and eight rebounds. Durant scored 36, but you could argue that it was Westbrook who was the difference maker in the game.

As for whether or not Battier tried to “punk” him, it doesn’t really appear that way. If anything, it was Westbrook who was acting out of line while Battier was trying to get to the baseline to inbound the ball. But if that’s what it takes for Westbrook to turn into an animal, I’m sure Thunder fans will gladly welcome it.

H/T I Am a GM