Battioke is arguably the only annual NBA charity event with name recognition, and it’s still going strong in 2019 even though 3-and-D expert of yesteryear Shane Battier has been retired from the league since 2014. As the name would suggest, Battioke is a karaoke fundraiser, one Battier and his wife, Heidi, have been organizing since his days in Houston, raising money for educational opportunities for kids through their Take Charge Foundation.
“We didn’t know anything about throwing events,” Battier told The Crossover. “We just wanted to help kids. We wanted to throw a party and we wanted to make it fun. It’s really grown organically.”
This year, Battioke raised over $150,000 that will be used to help students pursue higher education. (Heat GM Andy Elisburg won the competition with his performance of “Soul Man” by the Blues Brothers.) Battier caught up with The Crossover to discuss how he gets players to participate, his dream Battioke participants, and more.
Rohan Nadkarni: Do you blackmail all your teammates? What’s your pitch to get guys involved in Battioke?
Shane Battier: We appeal to the altruistic bone in everybody. This is for the kids. This is a great cause for some amazing kids in the Miami area and nationally. Don’t think of this as exposing your lack of vocal talents. Think of this as doing some great for some amazing kids in a way that’s fun and slightly embarrassing.
RN: When did the idea for Battioke first pop into your head?
SB: I actually borrowed the idea from an old teammate of mine, Ray Allen, when he played in Seattle. He actually hosted a karaoke fundraiser. His was more of a concert, he had Brian McKnight coming in, and guys singing karaoke. And I thought, “Wait a minute, that should be the headliner!” I want to do that, and I wanted it to be about karaoke the whole night. I borrowed Ray’s idea many years ago. We started this in Houston when I was on the Rockets, and it’s about a different fundraiser as you can find. It’s been wildly successful.
The funny part about Battioke is the guys come, no one wants to sing first. “I don’t want to do a song, and I just want to sit, and watch and laugh.” All of a sudden, someone goes up and breaks the ice. Then they want to see the songbook real quick. By the end of Battioke, we have guys literally fighting for the mic. It‘s almost like going to a sixth grade dance. No one wants to dance, but once someone gets on the dance floor, everyone wants to boogie. It happens every year this way.
RN: Do you have a karaoke strategy you employ? Are you the guy who is trying to get the crowd going?
SB: My strategy is I always sing the first song, to set the bar so low, that no one feels bad about singing after me. I’m not really a good singer, I don’t have a great voice. But I have energy and enthusiasm, which I believe is all you need for the art of karaoke. I usually dress up in something so absurd it puts everyone at ease. This year was no different. I try to do something a little uplifting, something everyone knows so they can sing the chorus. But mostly just make everyone laugh and put everyone at ease.
RN: What are some of the best and most memorable performances you’ve seen over the years?
SB:Chris Bosh doing “You’re the First, The Last, My Everything,” by Barry White. CB is hilarious, so he stuffs a pillow under his shirt, he’s wearing a jheri curl wig, and some kind of fu manchu mustache, so he looks like an over-the-hill lounge singer. And he just absolutely crushes it. It’s actually a competition, so he won the belt that year.
James Jones, who actually can sing, he’s got an amazing set of pipes, he did the “Thong Song” by Sisqo and actually colored his hair silver and went all out. He was another Battioke champion. I remember LeBron and D-Wade pulled a young a lady out of the audience and serenaded her. I don’t think that young lady was expecting two of the greatest players ever to serenade her that night. My good friend Luis Scola probably has the best and worst Battioke performance. He did “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Luis doesn’t have the best English. I think his performance would make even Bonnie Tyler blush. If you can find that on YouTube, it is hilariously horrible. But he was a great sport about it.
RN: I always look forward to the videos that come out, and I have fond memories of Erik Spoelstra dancing to Michael Jackson during Battioke. Has the social media aspect changed anything about Battioke from when you started in Houston?
SB: Athletes now, they know every public move is more or less broadcast. Which is good or bad. No one is going to go up there and sing a song that would make their grandmother blush. But it’s a chance for the players and celebrities to go up there and show people that they’re human and real. It endears them to their fans and the public. It shows they are as bad as karaoke as everyone else.
RN:Is there a whale out there for you? Is there someone you’re chasing that you hope will perform at Battioke one day?
SB: Let’s see. I’ve had LeBron, D Wade, Chris Bosh. I’ve had Hall of Famers. I had Yao Ming come, but he never sang. That would have been hilarious, but he declined the mic that night. I love Darius Rucker, I would love to do a duet with him. I’ve had Jimmy Buffet on stage. I’ve been pretty blessed to have some big names. I would love to do a duet with Beyoncé, like every other red-blooded male in the world. [Laughs] Beyoncé if you’re reading this, you have an open invitation to Battioke whenever you want.