Some Respect on His Name

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Back in November, perennial NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler found himself bewildered (the following tweet is NSFW).

After spending six years in Chicago (2011-2017), Butler was traded to Minnesota and spent a little over a season with the Timberwolves (2017-18) before he was once again shipped out of town, landing in Philadelphia for a single season (2018-19).

Between 2014 and 2019, Butler had averaged 20 or more in five consecutive seasons and was a 4-time All-Star in that time span.

So come this past summer, when Butler finally had the opportunity to somewhat take his career into his own hands, he was shocked to learn that his decision confused some.

Via a four-team sign-and-trade deal, Butler got his wish to land in Miami and signed a max contract with the Heat, a team that featured no superstars and missed the playoffs last season after finishing 39-43 in the regular season.

But as Butler told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, he was the superstar that Miami needed to get over the hump.

“I’m not going to say ‘carry a team’ because nobody can do it by themselves and I mean that,” Butler told Haynes back in November.” I’m not putting it all on myself, but I know what I’m capable of. I know what I bring to any and all situations, and the group of guys that we have is the group of guys that I want to play with.”

And if the 2020 NBA playoffs are any indication, Butler was correct in betting on himself, even when the masses weren’t sure he could lead his own team.

The Heat finished the regular season with the fifth best record in the East, but as it turns out, Miami was seemingly saving its best for last. 

Through seven postseason games, the Heat have yet to lose a single contest. They swept the 4th-seeded Indiana Pacers in the first round and as of Friday night, they are up 3-0 on the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, a team that features this season’s Defensiver Player of the Year and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Butler has so far been the best player in the series. 

Jimmy Buckets – after averaging 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals in the first round against Indiana – is putting up 27.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game in three matchups with Milwaukee, including a 40-point outburst in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Butler scored 15 points in the final frame and joined Miami royalty in the process.

In Game 2, despite only scoring 13 points, Playoff Jimmy scored the most important 2 points of the night.

And on Friday night, Butler poured in 30 points, 17 of which came in the final 12 minutes.

Milwaukee only scored 13 points total in the fourth.

Apparently, all it took was a little encouragement from Heat veteran Udonis Haslem to light a fire under Butler, with Miami trailing by 12 entering the fourth quarter.

In the postgame press conference, the Butler that arrived in Miami last summer made another appearance, reiterating that the chip on his shoulder also rests on the upper torso of his teammates.

Game 4 between Milwaukee and Miami is set for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET, with the Heat on the cusp of sweeping through the first two rounds of the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season. 

And if Miami pulls it off, not only will the NBA world be forced to put some respect on Butler’s name, but the Heat’s name as a whole. 


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