Jimmy Butler has heard himself described as a bad teammate and a coach’s nightmare in the past few years as he traveled from from Chicago to Minnesota to Philadelphia. But in a wide-ranging interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Butler says Miami is the perfect place for him — both from a fit standpoint and due to a shared commitment to winning.
Butler’s acerbic style wore thin in his other NBA stops, but his extreme training regimen has been a seamless fit with the Heat. Amick notes that they are the only team at the Disney World complex that hasn’t skipped a day of practice and they regularly use the entire three-hour window that’s allotted to them.
“Here (with the Heat), I’m wanted man,” Butler said. “And that’s all you ever want as a human being, as a basketball player, as anything is to feel wanted. I’m wanted. I’m welcomed here. And I couldn’t be in a happier place, or around better guys.”
Butler touches on several other subjects during the interview:
On previous clashes with teammates, coaches and management:
“If you’re not there, and you don’t know what’s really going on. You can only go by what you read or what somebody else says happened. I’m not one to always just tell you what happened, because I don’t give a damn what you think anyways, regardless. If me working hard makes people feel a certain way about how I go about things, I wasn’t meant to be there. Like here, I work incredibly hard. And everybody knows, so I don’t have to say it.”
On rumors that former Sixers coach Brett Brown didn’t want the team to re-sign Butler last summer:
“I don’t even think about what could have happened with Brett Brown. What could have happened. … I don’t, because if I get too lost in that I’m not doing my due diligence for these guys. … I couldn’t care less how anybody labels me. Just know that I do everything in my power to win. That’s what brings me the most joy, is that no matter what you think, or no matter what you might say, you’re never going to be able to say that I’m not a winner. I may not have won ‘it,’ but you’re not going to say that I was a loser, that I played a losing style of basketball. You’ll never say that.”
On Sixers center Joel Embiid tweeting “IF” on Monday, which was believed to be a reference to what the team might have accomplished if Butler had stayed:
“That’s my guy. Outside of basketball, I love that man to death. He knows that. I tell him every opportunity I get, and I appreciate him for making me a better player, a better leader, better at understanding so many different things. I talk to him all the time, and I tell him, ‘I wish you were still in the playoffs, because you deserve a championship.’ Because he works. He works at it, and that’s just my guy. Yeah, I saw it, and I know that he still wanted me to be on his team. And I still wanted to be teammates with him. Let’s not get that misunderstood. But here, with these guys, I’m not trading that for the world either.”
On the conference semifinal matchup with Milwaukee and Butler’s declaration that the Heat came to Orlando to win an NBA title:
“We’re in the same place. We haven’t done anything. We won a game. For us, that’s what we’re supposed to do. For us, we’re supposed to win in four. It may not be — everybody else may not think that, but for us, we’re in it to win it, man. We work too hard. Like, I can only keep saying that. We’re studying film like there’s no tomorrow. To me, we were built for this. We can do this.”