As you might have guessed, Miami Heat players are a cast of characters. So when the Heat's Shane Battier asked his teammates to perform for a good cause, he didn't have to do much persuading.
"It's hard to sell someone on getting onstage and putting themselves out there," Battier said during a recent talk with Riptide. "Luckily, I have great teammates that are a cast of characters and know how to have a good time."
Heat players and a number of special guests will "sing their hearts out" at the third-annual Battioke, taking place at the Fillmore Miami Beach Monday, January 27. The proceeds benefit the Take Charge Foundation, a charity founded by Battier and his wife, Heidi, that awards college scholarships to deserving at-risk high school students in Miami. Tickets cost $150 in advance and are available at takechargefoundation.org. It's a chance to get up close and personal with Heat players, coaches, and executives and see what they're like off the court. But it's not all fun and games.
"You gotta remember you are dealing with a bunch of highly competitive alpha males," Battier said. "They try to outdo each other. It makes for a very entertaining experience."
Here's what Battier told us about the event, the reigning NBA champions' White House visit, and how he became friends with The Hangover star Ken Jeong.
New Times: You once said taking a charge in a game requires good court vision, anticipation, and courage. How do you relate it to your work with the Take Charge Foundation?
Shane Battier: Taking a charge is an unselfish act that helps your team win. Many people consider it a passive play, but it isn't. It takes aggression and awareness to step in and do it right. What we try to do with the Take Charge Foundation is identify college kids who may be in difficult situations but have the aggression and awareness to try to change things.
What advice do you give kids involved in the charity and kids in general?
What we tell them when they earn the scholarships is that it's just the beginning. College is a time for learning and exploration, so they have to work hard to find themselves and succeed. It's also a time to enjoy life and get the most of every opportunity. If you want to learn to play the violin, learn to play the violin. If you want to join different clubs, join as many as you can, but still concentrate on your studies.
What can people expect at the third-annual Battioke?
The event has grown considerably. We are really proud of what we have been able to accomplish and excited for the future. I have great teammates that are going to be singing their hearts out trying to outdo each other. This is our first year at the Fillmore, which when you think of it, you think Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. It's great to be in such a great venue and have so many people interested. In our White House visit this week, President Obama even mentioned it, so it has really entered the national consciousness.
What's President Obama like?
He's just one of the guys. He was joking around, having conversations with guys on the team. He has a relationship with many of us, so it felt natural to be there the second year in a row. He's also a big basketball fan. You can tell he keeps up with the NBA -- he knows his stuff.
You're friends with The Hangover star Ken Jeong, who will also be at the event. How did that friendship start? He didn't end up in your trunk after a Vegas bender, did he?
No [laughing]. Ken is a fellow Duke graduate. We connected through Twitter and have become good friends. When I asked him to join us, he was more than happy to. He actually used to work at a karaoke bar before he became a movie star.
You've received many accolades during your career. You were the Naismith College Player of the Year, won an NCAA Championship, two championships with the Heat, and you're the only player in NBA history to be part of two 20-plus win streaks. What has been the highlight?
It has to be just the journey. I know that sounds cliché, but I have been part of some amazing teams. When I step away from the game, I'm going to miss times in the locker rooms, the grind of it all.
How do you compare the first championship in 2012 to the one this past season?
I get that question a lot. It's like being a parent and having two kids. You don't love one more than the other; you love them differently. The first one was really amazing, having played 11 years and never winning one. The second was tougher, so it really brought us together as a team.
What can fans expect from the Heat this season?
Our team has been successful because we take the necessary steps every day to try to get better. We know our best basketball is ahead of us. We just want to try to stay healthy and gain as much momentum going into the playoffs.
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And a scene from last year's Battioke: