Behind Enemy Lines: Miami Heat forward Shane Battier

Now in his 11th NBA season, Miami Heat forward Shane Battier has earned a reputation as a defensive stopper and a three-point threat. The former Duke University star twice has been named to the NBA All-Defensive second team and is a career .385 shooter from beyond the arc.

At Duke, Battier was a first-team All-America selection and received several national player of the year honors after helping the Blue Devils win the 2001 NCAA championship. He was selected sixth overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 2001 NBA Draft.

Battier took a few minutes after the Heat shootaround Friday to talk to Nuggets.com about a variety of topics, including what he thinks of the new-look Denver Nuggets and whether he could ever bring himself to play for another Coach K – this one from North Carolina.

Q: What’s been the difference between playing on a high-profile, star-studded team such as the Heat as opposed to a younger small-market team in Memphis?A: Well, I believe that every player has a role, and we are role players. Some have the role of scoring 25 to 28 points a game, and others have different roles. There is a lot of ways to win in this league. Every team has to find the best rhythm and best method for their team.

Q: What are some things you typically expect when you come to Denver and face the Nuggets and their up-tempo system?A: You expect a high-scoring fast paced game. As far back as I can remember, they have always had a team that pushes the tempo. When you deal with the altitude you know you’re in for a tough first quarter. Once you get past that, it’s a great shooters gym. People who come here like shooting here. It’s got soft rims and a good backdrop, so you expect a lot of offense.

Q: What do you think of new-look Nuggets this season?A: They’re playing well. When you have guys who play the right way and share the ball and are talented, you’re going to have good results.

Q: How long did you realistically expect to play in the NBA?A: I’ve never had a career goal in terms of years. Every year you play in this league you are fortunate, we are lucky to be in the NBA. My only goal for my career is to walk away from the game before the game kicked me out. (Laughing) That was my only career goal.

Q: Do you think you would be able to play for a Nuggets team that has had its fair share of Tar Heels, led by Coach George Karl?A: It would be asking a lot for me to work with the caliber of George Karl and other Tar Heels (smiles). There is a great amount of respect and rivalry that goes on between the Carolina and Duke guys. It’s always great to see Coach Karl. I’m glad he is healthy. We have a yearly wage on the year’s team. I think he owes me a couple hundred, but the Carolina guys have done well as have the Duke guys.

Q: Do you think we will ever see another four-year college player who will be considered an NBA superstar?A: You will. What you will is some late bloomers. Believe it or not, there are guys who actually enjoyed going to school as I did. You will see an all-star who went to school for four years at some point.