When you really think about it, it is kind of amazing that Shane Battier got the tiny bit of acclaim that he did thanks to a New York Times profile and an ability to put his hand almost on a shooter’s face without actually putting it on their face. At this point, you probably don’t even think about Shane Battier being the National Player of the Year in college, winning a national title or being selected No. 6 overall. Nowadays, Shane Battier is just a guy with a wrinkly head who is a good defender, even though people still think he’s great.

However, he’s still got that hand in the face move, and it’s just as effective as ever. After being popularized against Kobe Bryant, Battier’s brought it to the NBA Finals, where he’s used it to great success against Kevin Durant. And let me tell you, Kevin Durant no likey. From ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh:

When asked about Battier’s unorthodox blindfold technique on Wednesday at practice, Durant shook his head in frustration and offered this response:

“I absolutely hate it.” [...]

Battier has been waiting for this affirmation for years. This is the first time a star publicly acknowledged that Battier’s patented blindfold move actually works. After hearing word that Durant hated Battier’s technique, Battier gave a flourishing fist-pump.

“Yes!” Battier exclaimed. “Someone finally admitted it.”

Battier is most famous for using it on Kobe Bryant, but the Heat forward could never get Bryant to confess that the hand-in-the-face trick was effective. Then again, Bryant is never one to reveal weakness.

“See, for years Kobe would never admit it,” Battier said. “People generally don’t like to be touched in the face. They don’t like hands in the face. They just don’t like it.”

You know, Shane Battier makes a great point — people don’t like being touched in the face. Try it sometime. Go up to one of your best friends and touch them on the nose. Even though you and that person are very close, they’ll be like, “What are you doing?!” I have been testing this hypothesis since high school, so believe me when I tell you that people are VERY protective of their faces.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that Battier’s blindfold move works so well. As he says in Haberstroh’s piece, “I know I don’t like it so if I don’t like it, I know other guys won’t like it.” This makes total sense. Imagine shooting a jumper that you have a split-second to release in the first place, only at the last possible moment a 6-foot-8 dude rockets his hand in to your face but doesn’t touch it. Not only is it really good defense, it’s also kind of creepy, which has to be a big part of why it works so well.

It’s also interesting that Durant would admit he hates this move. When Dirk Nowitzki admitted the Nuggets had defenders who could guard him, he got killed for it. Now Durant is doing it in the middle of the NBA Finals and Battier is hearing he hates it, which could theoretically could lead to a lot more hands in the face. If we see LeBron James put his giant paw in Durant’s mug, we’ll know KD shouldn’t have said anything.

But for now, I guess we can just congratulate Shane Battier on making a super annoying maneuver famous. That is a weird accomplishment to have, but he’s got it. High five to him. Right in the face, preferably.

Comments (16)

  1. Shocked your photo caption didn’t include anything about KD’s mom in the photo. Amazing.

  2. Maybe Durant is already working on some of his mind games here. If Spoelstra hears this and is encouraged by this he’ll continue to stick Battier on KD instead of using Lebron, who has been much more effective defending Durant.

  3. I was always taught to put my hand up in the shooter’s face when you close out on a jump shot. It’s an easy way to rattle the shooter if you can’t elevate to defend the ball. This is just fundamentals, no? Although it does take a certain skill to get your hand that close.

  4. Yeah. It worked so well Durant ONLY scored 36 points in game one.

  5. He should make his hands smell like ass. That would help.

  6. Can someone explain to me how this move isn’t technically face-guarding, which is technically illegal?

  7. On defense I love putting a hand in the face especially when I’m gassed but it only really works when your hand is parallel to the shooters forehead. Battier is not really tall enough to get there on most shots but I think he has the right idea.

    -Go HEAT!

  8. from the nba rule book…


    page 41

    EXCEPTION: Rule 12A—Section V—l(5)
    l. A player, coach or trainer must be ejected for:
    (1) A punching foul
    (2) A fighting foul
    (3) An elbow foul which makes contact above shoulder level
    (4) Technical foul for an attempted punch which does not make contact
    (5) Deliberately entering the stands other than as a continuance of play
    (6) Flagrant foul penalty (2)
    (7) Second flagrant foul penalty (1)
    (8) Participation in the game when not on team’s active list
    m. Eye guarding (placing a hand in front of the opponent’s eyes when guarding from
    the rear) a player who does not have possession of the ball is illegal and an unsportsmanlike
    technical shall be assessed.

    so the last part indicated eye guarding who DOES NOT have possession of the ball is illegal. so technically its okay if they do have the ball which is rather stupid lol every other level has it as illegal but the NBA

    • **When guarding from the rear**

      Battier is in front of Durant, so no violation. Also, subsection (m) is only a technical foul. The list of ejectable offenses you have above it is a different subsection–(l).

    • Read before you post! It clearly says that eye guarding is if you approach from the rear and cover the other guy’s eyes, like when kids do it to each other and finish with the sentence “guess who?” Use your head next time!

  9. KD’s mom looks like a cross between cruella deville and The notorious BIG

  10. KD should just flop each time Battier does it. All he has to do is pretend to get hit in the face or eye every so often. If his hand is near enough, the refs have got to make the call.

  11. Does this bother you? I’m not touching you. Does this bother you? I’m not touching you. Does this bother you? I’m not touching you.

  12. If someone do that to me in regular season – I would risk suspension for strong, straight knockout. That’s how much I perceive it in non-sportsmanship manner.

  13. I think Durant is playing coy with Battier here, inviting him to continue face guarding instead of contesting because it seems like Durant has hardly missed against this tactic.

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