Shane Battier finds it humorous. That doesn’t mean he also doesn’t respect the challenge ahead.
But the notion of championship fatigue, one most recently offered by TNT analyst Steve Kerr amid his forecast of the Chicago Bulls coming out of the East instead of a fourth consecutive Miami Heat NBA Finals appearance, is one Battier finds amusing.
No, the Heat forward said, they won’t back down.
"It’s what we do, we compete," Battier said, speaking of those with such doubts, not Kerr specifically.
"And honestly, the championship seems so long ago. The first day of camp will come and we’re going to want to win every game.
"That’s what we’ve done the last three years."
While the toll of three consecutive lengthy playoff runs has resulted in added mileage on a roster aging beyond the core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Battier said it’s not as if the Heat will arrive for the Oct. 1 start of training camp planning on a measured approach to the season.
"It’ll be more like, ‘We’re here. Let’s go after it again,’" he said. "I don’t think the mindset will be much different."
The competition, however, will. The Indiana Pacers, who took the Heat to a decisive seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals, get Danny Granger back from injury and have added Luis Scola, Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson. The Chicago Bulls, after a year wait, will have Derrick Rose back from his gruesome 2012 playoff knee injury. And the Brooklyn Nets have added Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry.
"It’s always tough," Battier said. "But the East got tougher, especially at the top, and it’ll be fun. It’ll be a fun year like last year. I thought everyone gave us their best shot and we’re expecting the same, if not more, this year.
"It’s good to be tested."
The Heat, by contrast, return largely intact, with Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis and James Jones opting back in, and with Chris Andersen re-signing. The only offseason additions of note were Greg Oden and Michael Beasley, players who initially will set up at the end of the rotation, if even that.
And that’s another question among outsiders, that the roster has grown stale, not enough injected to liven the rotation and locker room.
"I think if you have competitors," Battier countered, "that’s all that matters. We have a roster of competitors."
The other part of the equation is that because it remains about the Big Three, it largely otherwise will remain a locker room of supporting players, with Erik Spoelstra at times during last season’s championship run dramatically trimming the minutes of Battier, Andersen, Udonis Haslem and Norris Cole.
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