February 29, 2016 • Coaching

Shane Battier discusses the necessity of ‘glue guys’

Former NBA player Shane Battier was an elite "glue guy" who kept his focus on the ultimate goal — winning. | Photo: Keith Allison, Wikimedia
Former NBA player Shane Battier was an elite “glue guy” who kept his focus on the ultimate goal — winning. | Photo: Keith Allison, Wikimedia

“Glue guys” rarely win MVP awards or command the national spotlight, but coaches understand they’re every bit as important as the team’s most elite athletes.

Shane Battier spent his 13-year NBA career as one of those “glue guys,” working tirelessly behind the scenes to do the small things that put his team in the best position to win. We don’t often see athletes embrace this kind of role, but Battier is not one of those athletes. Earlier this month, he wrote a column for The Players’ Tribune discussing his career as a textbook “glue guy.”

Battier’s words might help coaches convey the message to their players that they don’t always need to be the top scorer or hit the most home runs. It’s about doing what must be done to carry the team to victory, and sometimes that means just playing your role to the best of your abilities — however small that role may be.

Here are just a few of his thoughts:

Usually you are called a glue guy because you fail the eyeball test. For me, it was my lack of relative athleticism amongst the best athletes on the planet. However, you can’t operate with some fear of ending up on a highlight reel or looking dumb in front of your teammates. One of the reasons I was able to stay in the league for 13 years was because I wasn’t afraid of looking like an idiot. The narrative simply did not matter to me. I had bigger fish to fry.

Don’t get me wrong: I had an ego, Mother Teresa I was not. But the distinction that I made was that as long as I did my job and my teammates and coaches knew my value, I never had to worry about the outside critiques of my game or value. Generally, a glue guy is only as well regarded as the team he’s playing for.

For example, I always thought it was fascinating the way people discussed me as a player while I was on those scrappy Houston Rocket teams that didn’t have much playoff success. The general sentiment about my playing style was that I was tough, had great leadership skills, but couldn’t dribble, jump or create my own shot to save my life. Some people viewed me as a liability on the court in certain situations.

Then I go to a team like Miami and we’re winning, and we’re competing for championships, and suddenly Shane Battier is this invaluable player, just an unbelievable glue guy. Always in the right spot. Tenacious defender. Never afraid to dive on the floor for a loose… well, you know the deal.

“Glue guy” and “role player” are badges that not too many players wear with pride, but they should. Battier won’t go down as one of basketball’s all-time greats, but he is in the history books as a two-time NBA champion and an NCAA champion (his Duke Blue Devils won a title in 2001). This is a player who averaged 8.6 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game as a professional, but that’s not what people will remember. It’ll be the wins and the championships.

Battier’s full column is worth your time. Check it out by clicking here.

Leave a Reply