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by bill kearney | October 29, 2013 | Food & Drink
Miami Heat forward Shane Battier walking into Sugarcane, one of his favorite spots for a quick bite after a game
Deepfried Brussels sprouts with mandarin oranges, another favorite
Crunchy tuna from the raw bar
Battier recently discovered Atlantico rum on the rocks, part of Sugarcane’s extensive rum selection
The PDR Gallery with its impressive display of wine bottles
Ironwork and vintage touches add a sense of old Havana
Shane Battier, all 6-foot-8 of him, somehow manages to saunter into Sugarcane unnoticed. His serene, no-fuss demeanor belies the fact that he was a hero of game seven in this past season’s NBA finals, sinking a record six of eight three-pointers, as the Heat went on to win the championship.
Sugarcane is one of your favorite restaurants. How did you discover it?
The funny thing about NBA basketball players is you learn what restaurants stay open late really quickly. By the time I get out of the gym, it’s 10:30 at night. We heard great things about Sugarcane and it’s not too far from the arena, so it’s a perfect spot to come after a game, after a nice win, have a few cocktails, and get some good food.
What do you think of the small-plates concept?
A place like this, you come and get 10 different dishes and try a little bit of everything and really get a flavor of the chef and of what he’s trying to do.
As an athlete, do you have to watch what you eat?
My motto is “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” I burn so many calories—I think we run six or seven miles a game—so I’m looking just to get some good food down there.
I understand that you met your wife in junior high school.
We met in seventh grade. I walked into math class, and I saw her and said, “That’s the one.” Of course, it took her a few years to realize I was the one. We dated for two years in high school, then got back together in college. And we’ve been together ever since.
Did she witness you going through a dorky phase?
I’m still going through my dorky phase.
You have a son and a daughter. Do you want them to get into sports?
I want them to be happy. I want them to do things that I never did, like play the piano, learn the guitar, take art classes, and be really well rounded.
Why study music?
It’s a very different way of thinking—much more right-brain. Basketball is a little more left-brain, except for the guys like LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade. Most artists, great musicians, athletes, are able to shut their left brain down and their right brain takes over. Everything I do is analytic; that’s the way I play basketball, that’s my strength. Sometimes it paralyzes me because I overanalyze things. LeBron has an amazing left brain, too. He’s very analytical, but he has something about him that you can’t teach, and I think that’s his right brain.
You put your home on the market, which caused rumors of your departure, but you just got a new house in Coral Gables.
Yeah, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to play basketball beyond this year. But after living here for a couple of years, we love our schools, made some good friends, and obviously the weather and the scene are good, too.
You’re drinking rum on the rocks.
I was never a big rum guy, but a server gave me the Atlantico Platinum to try and I fell in love with it. [The server delivers a plate of Brussels sprouts.] If a restaurant has Brussels sprouts, I have to order them. It’s like the Holy Grail: You’re looking for the best Brussels sprouts of all time, and these are pretty damn good. When you have the chard and the citrus of the mandarin orange and [they’re] deep-fried, I mean, these are unbelievable.
In game seven of the NBA finals, you went a ridiculous 6 for 8 on threepointers, yet you said on Twitter that what you really remember was the misses.
I think most guys remember what they do wrong more than what they do right. You spend your life searching for the perfect game, searching for perfection, and when it’s at hand you realize what kept you from that.
What’s your favorite dish here?
I love duck confit. You can’t go wrong with it by itself, but when you add in the sweetness of the syrup [and waffles], the savory of the duck, you throw a fried egg in there—good lord! This will make you want to lie down and take a nap.
Tell me about your charity work.
I think one of the most fun charity events of the year is South Beach Battioke (for The Battier Take Charge Foundation). It’ll probably be in late January. Basically it’s a karaoke competition among my teammates. Everyone gets into it, from LeBron and Dwyane to Chris [Bosh].
Are you any good at karaoke?
No, but I have a lot of confidence.
To learn more about Shane Battier’s charity, visit takechargefoundation.org
photography by gary james