Todd went to Shane Battier's lecture and sends this account. Thanks Todd!
Ah glorious circumstance, how thine light hath shown on me.
My dear spouse Bridget took on the challenge of coordinating the 2002-2003 lecture series for the Hart Leadership Program (http://www.pubpol.duke.edu/hlp), of the Sanford Institute of Public Policy. She was contemplating a panoply of distinguished leaders with whom the Duke community could seek dialog for the furtherment of community engagement and global betterment. Then, in a casual conversation with Janet Hill (why wasn't I invited!?!?!?!), Bridget and Janet thought the perfect kick off speaker should be none other than the raisin-headed, anti-Heyman, golden boy, stuff of legends, number 31. In the course of their chat, Janet slipped Bridget Shane's cell phone number which, despite many expeditions into Bridget's vast array of handbags, briefcases, purses and alligator clutches, I have yet to unearth for my own athlete stalking purposes. A quick exchange with his agency and, voila, Shane was on deck.
After settling the wee one with auntie babysitter, I headed for the Hall of Fame room, an auspicious hallway between Cameron and the tower from which his regal Kness can exhort the tented masses huddled below. A little wine, a little cheese cube and salami combo later and he arrived. As expected, Shane was impeccably appointed, looking completely comfortable working the room from Nan Keohane to the lowly Devil Musings scum of the room. Brother JASJ and I were fortuitously pre-positioned near the food (coincidence!) as Shane gathered a group nearby. Mistaking us for persons who could positively impact his legacy, Shane introduced himself to the brothers Jones and chatted briefly before realizing there was no value added in our dialog and politely excused himself to go banter with Wojo.
The reception dispersed as we all headed over to Page. Not even Bridget was privy to his speech or its topic before the event. Yet, knowing he has given more public presentations at 24 years than most of us give in a lifetime, his preparedness was not an issue. Thanks to my inside connections, we sat on the second row, a couple of seats in front of the 2003 NCAA champs. Quickly sizing up our squad, they look formidable. Casey, Chris, Dahntay, Nick, Daniel were there ushering the little puppy dog frosh around. JJ, with longer hair than the high school buzz cut mug shots, looked surprisingly laid back and slap happy, despite allegations of his fervent old school spirituality. Shelden was slumping down to the point you wondered if he was in fact massive, as advertised. Upon standing up to stretch, we could see his powerful frame, replete with red white and blue nouveau 70's chapeau, with a dangling dreadlock sneaking out the back by about 6 inches. Could this be the dreadlocked!
Devil we've been waiting for? Shav, as you'd expect, was serious and intent on soaking in Shane 101. Michael Thompson and Sean Dockery were less notable and seemed content to blend in with the team. How many hours until the England games?
A touching introduction (penned by Bridget) later and the six minutes of Shane video greatness were projected on the big screen. A montage of Shane moments and facial expressions, the retrospective was a great look at Shane, although they were missing several hours of highlights and the Sarah McLaughlin song was a bit maudlin for this pundit's tastes. High point of the vid' was the mega-slo-mo shot of Shane blocking Arizona's (Jason Gardner? Richard Jefferson?) on the way to an otherwise easy bucket. The block we've all decorated our consciousness with, has Shane coming from behind the gimme bucket, hands curling over the pumpkin as his body moves around the Wildcat in question to avoid any contact. He grabs the ball and, as he falls out of bounds, scoops it back into Devil hands.
Shane's speech was very good. He was well organized, focusing on his concept of leadership - character, commitment and vision. He adeptly referenced a Davey Crocket quote ("Know you're right, then go ahead") to pay homage to his new Tennessee home. He spoke of the importance of failure, of focusing on yourself rather than on your opponent, admirably applying sports metaphors to leadership in general without sounding hollow or implausible. Nonetheless, his perspective on leadership is inextricably shaped by sports and perhaps misses some of the broader points of consensus building, honoring tradition and addressing the disenfranchised, all hallmarks of the sponsoring organizations. Given that he is a professional athlete OR that he is only 24, his speech was outstanding. Given both circumstances, his speech was remarkable. It is easy to see him in 15 years commanding rapt audiences, be they corporate execs, the UN security council or an auditorium of high schoolers, with his !
Some highlights of his talk:
The summer of 1999, Shane was working as a marketing intern for the McDonald's corporation, helping to shape the roll-out of the Tarzan happy meal. He got a phone call at work from Coach K. Coach asks him, "Shane, can you see yourself scoring 35 points and ripping down 15 rebounds against Carolina in the Dean Dome this next season?" Shane responds, "Well, ..." After Shane's momentary hesitation, but before he can muster a reasoned reply, Coach K hangs up the phone. A couple of days pass. Coach K calls Shane at work again. "Can you see yourself leading this team to an ACC championship next season?" Again Shane stutters as he begins to deliver his well-formed response. "I guess that..." Click. Coach K hangs up on him again. This cycle repeats over the next few weeks, presumably culminating in Shane emphatically and unhesitatingly responding to Coach K in the positive that, in fact, "Yes, I will dominate in 2000". Shane averages 19 points a game and is the clear star of the te!
am, deferring the ACC POY award to CWell the senior.
He also stated that with his imminent nuptials, he is learning the importance of listening and following at times. A rollicking titter filtered through Page. He talked about how important his college years were, speaking at one point of the difficulties of being an athlete on a major program, heading up the association of collegiate basketball players and realizing he still had to do well in school to graduate. Then, he reassured the audience, in a surprisingly stern tone, that there was no question he would graduate on time.
During the Q&A session, Chris Duhon coyly asked for leadership advice on how he can get through to people like Casey and Dahntay. Without missing a beat, Shane acknowledged that one has to be careful. If you yell at Dahntay, he'll cry. You have to treat each person uniquely, figuring out their motivation points and using that to your advantage.
Despite his degree in religion, he seemed loathe to get into any equations of spirituality and achievement, beyond acknowledging that his athletic and intellectual gifts were granted "from above." He also deflected tough questions on racial issues, insisting that "if you're good, you're good" and that race is unimportant. If that works for Shane, that's cool, but one suspects it's not that simple for millions of Americans and billions throughout the world.
When asked about life after basketball, Shane said he has no idea what he'll do. His answer had a gleeful wonder to it, knowing that whatever it is, he'll have a great time doing it.
Shane continues to see the world in a very positive light. Not surprising given his upbringing in elite institutions and his continued success. His citations of failures were mostly in athletic arenas and one senses that his regimentation and discipline shield him from many of the self-imposed vicissitudes that the rest of us charitably consider to be "character building." It was truly a wonderful night with Shane and I for one, will feel a mild disappointment if he stays solely in the sphere of basketball for the rest of his life.
Disappointingly absent from the talk was the audience chanting the gratuitous inquiry of paternal identity. Oh well.
Bonus moment- a parking lot chat with Wojo, who sought out Bridget for a brief concurrence that the talk was a huge success. The three of us agreed: Shane is perfect.
Duke Class of Gminski