Shane Battier hung up his sneakers in 2014. The two-time NBA champion now resides in Miami with his wife and two children. At 37, he is a considerably younger than the bulk of the South Florida retirement crowd. Battier is done spending his nights locking down Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, but he stays active other ways.
It was at the South Beach Triathlon last April that Battier met Rhone CEO Nate Checketts.
"Nate had a little pop-up stand on Miami Beach," Battier says. "He was sweating, sunburned and he was stopping every person who was running this triathlon and saying, 'Hey, I make a really good silver-threaded shirt. You should try it.' That's part of the authenticity. If you buy in early and you create the ground swell, it does differentiate you from everyone else."
Rhone, an athleisure apparel company, was approaching its third anniversary. With Battier closing out his first year of retirement, the two fused at the right time. Battier was looking to try his hand at investing.
Through Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group, Checketts could dress a celebrity in his product in exchange for a donation to the individual's charity (Battier's is The Battier Take Charge Foundation).
"I grew up a Knicks fan, not a Miami Heat fan or a Duke fan, but I thought about Shane and why he fit with our brand," Checketts says. "You can tell he's an even better person than he's an athlete. He's a husband and a father too."
Battier took pictures and signed autographs at the Rhone stand. "I was really impressed by your energy and your brand," Checketts remembers Battier telling him. "Let me know if you want to chat further."
The two met for breakfast shortly after, and Battier signed on as an investor.
Battier has long been prepping for life after retirement. After averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds as a junior at Duke, Battier could have been a 2000 lottery pick. Instead, he stayed for a fourth year to develop and get his degree.
"I loved college, so I wasn't in a rush to leave," Battier says. "I wouldn't trade my senior year at Duke for anything in the world. It was a magical year. It has prepared me for life after basketball."
Battier was the Naismith Player of the Year and NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player of the Year. Duke won the 2001 national championship.
In 2010, The Sporting News ranked Battier seventh in its "20 Smartest Athletes." There is well-spoken and then there is Battier's level, which requires a dictionary every few sentences. Battier is fluent in English and German and posted a 3.5 GPA at highly competitive Duke. However, his major, religion, is a rarity in the investment world.
"I found myself praying a lot to have success," Battier says with a laugh. "I really enjoyed having a deeper understanding of every world religion, and it's obviously an important subject in our day and time. I don't have any desires to become the next Joel Osteen."
Basketball fans know Battier's smarts for his data analysis. After he won his second NBA title, when questioned about overcoming shooting struggles, he said, "My mantra was I'll regress to the mean." In the middle of celebrating a Game 7 NBA Finals victory, Battier pulled lingo from math class.
"I've always been the nerd," he says. "That's something I've embraced. I don't think I would have ever had the basketball career I was able to have if I wasn't so analytical. The hallmark of my basketball career is the use of basketball analytics and sabermetrics. I wear that as a badge of honor. I was never athletic or good-looking enough to make it on talent alone, so I had to make it as the basketball nerd."
Battier has nerds to admire, along with templates for failure.
"Grant Hill and David Robinson are doing an unbelievable job in the business world," Battier says. "They're highly successful basketball players, great individuals and great businessmen. You hear about so many stories about athletes getting into trouble after they leave the game, but those guys are two shining examples of guys who can do it all and do it with class."
Battier, who spent the first year of his retirement at ESPN but has since moved on from broadcasting, is taking a hands-on approach with his investments. For Rhone, he is going to be the face of the brand's board shorts campaign, as cameras capture Battier, a swimming novice from Detroit, getting lessons in the pool.
"After playing basketball for 30 years, it's fascinating to be able to go into a meeting and talk about apparel with Rhone and then go across the street and talk about sports tech companies like LeagueApps or SeatGeek," Battier says of two other brands in which he has invested. "I think eventually I'll settle into one concentration, but for right now, it's fun to be dynamic."
A return to the basketball world is not out of the question, but Battier says the league is still a few years away from needing his analytics expertise.
"The players are sort of the last faction of the converts," he says. "It will eventually reach all players because they'll be a financial stake connected to it."
What about a role in an NBA front office? After all, Battier can mix his judge of talent with sabermetrics, and his new Rhone partner is son of former Jazz and Knicks president Dave Checketts.
"I called Mario Chalmers after he got traded to Memphis," Battier says. "He wanted to know what the skinny is on the Grizzlies. It's his first trade. I don't care how long you've been in a place, it's always unnerving and a small feeling of being slighted. I told him it's a great opportunity to go to Memphis in a contract year. They seem to be handing them out pretty regularly."
In November, Battier and Checketts spoke on an athleisure panel in Manhattan sponsored by New York Venture Community Sports. The room was flooded with investors and potential business partners draped in suits. Decades of financial experience listened to a man who spent most of his life focused on putting an orange ball in a basket (or, mostly in Battier's case, keeping other individuals from doing so).
Battier is being aggressive and tactical with his investments. Much like his game, he is working hard, under control.
Although, unlike his NBA career, Battier does not need to focus on defense. In investing, he can go on the offensive.
— NYVCSports (@NYVCSports) November 12, 2015
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.