Bam Adebayo, Andre Iguodala address stark contrast in Jimmy Butler image, reputation
Jimmy Butler has had a rough reputation throughout the eyes of the league in the past few years, yet this season he’s been showered in roses of praise after leading the Miami Heat from a potential fringe playoff team to a top-four threat in the East.
Heat Center Bam Adebayo and new teammate Andre Iguodala have seen how his image has turned around in half a season, now away from the hoopla that often shredded his persona.
Adebayo still remembers the stigma that came with trading for Butler, a gamble the Heat took this past summer in a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“That he was a cancer!” Adebayo jokingly shouted, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “He’s way different than some of the media portrayed him to be. He’s not a cancer. As you can see, we’re winning. He’s one of the leaders on this team, and that’s what we need from him. He’s going to keep doing it. I’m gonna stay on him to keep doing it.”
Butler is a peculiar type of fellow, but many of the league’s most relentless winners have had a few screws loose. Jimmy is unapologetically competitive, incredibly demanding, and will not hesitate to hold himself or his teammates accountable.
“When [Butler] was in other places, he got knocked for [speaking his mind],” said Iguodala, who’s now only spent a few days with him as his new teammate. “He was disruptive toward his other teammates, but you put him around some guys that actually want to get to the grind, what did he do for them? He upped their level of play, right?
“I think he upped the level of play for the guys on the Bulls. I think [the major issue] was only at one stop, really, [in Minnesota], and we see what’s happening with that ship.”
Butler’s trade to Minnesota was a clear mishit, a miscalculation by then-coach and president Tom Thibodeau to reincarnate the Bulls in the West. Butler brought the Timberwolves to third place before he suffered an injury, at which point the team snowballed to nearly missing the playoffs.
Disdain from players often irked Butler, who criticized them for not buying into a winning culture.
Now that he’s found a franchise with like-minded fierce competitors, he’s setting the tone as The Lion King of his own pride.