15 for 15: Shane Battier

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15 for 15:  '15 people that I'd like to interview for 15 minutes each'.

Some of you may be wondering — who's Shane Battier and why do you want to interview him?

Point taken.

Had my business partner not played with him at Duke, and had the NY Times article The No-Stats All-Star not been written by Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker and Moneyball, I wouldn't have paid the article any mind.

But I'm glad I did because the more I read, the more intrigued I became.

Let me share just a few quotes from the Lewis interview before I get to my own questions.

Shane Battier 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…seems to help the team in all sorts of subtle, hard-to-measure ways that appear to violate his own personal interests.


Courtesy:  Robert Seale for The New York Times
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…On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.'s most prolific scorers, he significantly reduces their shooting percentages.  “
[We] call him Lego.  When he's on the court, all the pieces start to fit together.


Can you relate?

Husbands, children, co-workers wonder what it is exactly we do – considering us at best a replaceable cog in a machine made up of superstars. And yet, because of who we are and what we do, whether in our homes, communities, or workplace, things magically work.

If I were to spend 15 minutes with Shane Battier, here's what I'd ask him.

  1. In junior high school, you were considered one of the most talented kids in the nation, whereas today you are frequently described as a ‘replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars'?  How does this make you feel?
  2. At what point did you realize that what you do best isn't frequently measured or counted?  How did you deal with this?
  3. If statisticians hadn't started counting what wasn't previously counted or measured, how would your professional career be different?
  4. In your interview with Michael Lewis, you made the statement, “Everything that I've done since [8th grade] is because of what I went through [in 8th grade]. What I did was alienate myself from everybody. I sort of lost myself in the game.”  Having lost yourself in the game, and mastered the art of blending in, do you ever think about not blending in anymore?  Do you ever want to stand out?
  5. What words of advice or encouragement would you offer to all those who do things that can't easily be measured, yet the pieces fit together when they are figuratively ‘in the game'?
Were you as intrigued by this article as I was?
What else would you ask Shane Battier?
Does it give you comfort to realize that as Einstein said, ‘ not everything that counts, can be counted?”
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