Halfway through his career, Shane Battier began the practice of sticking his hand in an opposing shooter’s face. Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant said he “hates” it, the first time Battier says any player has acknowledged it.
“Kobe would never say that,” Battier said. “He’d swear up and down on all his championship trophies it doesn’t bother him. He wouldn’t give you anything.”
Kobe Bryant is quick to guard his perceived weaknesses and doesn’t want his opponents to know what bothers him or shakes him off his game. I remember when Battier was with the Houston Rockets during their improbable winning streak, and Battier clearly got into Bryant’s head with his defense. This excellent SI article examines a bit why Bryant is loath to give his competitors any advantage with what he told the media. That is why he answers questions so guardedly.
Durant, however, has great mutual respect for almost everyone he plays against. He is a basketball nut and fanatic, and thinks about it on an almost 24/7 basis. He is still so young, that he has a healthy respect for the game’s elders even as he takes the league by storm.
Asked if anyone else in the league face–guards opponents like he does, Battier said: “A couple of guys do it to me just to piss me off. But their technique needs work. It wasn’t effective.”
That’s one thing Battier and Durant both have in common: effectiveness.