There are simply some players who seem to elevate their game when the stakes are at their highest. You have probably heard of Game 7 LeBron James or maybe the famous playoff version of Rajon Rondo, who simply becomes much more of an impactful player when his team only needs to win 16 games to win it all. These mythoi are important to the fabric of NBA discussion; after all, separating the wheat from the chaff during the postseason bolsters a player’s legacy more than one thinks. But Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler is having none of that.
After putting up 33 points to lead his Heat to a 119-115 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a reporter suggested that “Playoff Jimmy” was activated on Friday night. But Butler quickly shut that down with a huge smile on his face.
“[Playoff Jimmy]’s not a real thing,” Butler said while playfully shaking his head during his postgame presser, per Bally Sports Sun: Heat.
(Skip to 1:36 for the relevant part.)
"It's very fulfilling and satisfying."
Jimmy Butler speaks after his 33-point performance in the Heat win@MiamiHEAT | #HEATCulture pic.twitter.com/5Afzjit28n
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) March 11, 2023
Jimmy Butler can deny all he wants, but it’s clear that he has earned the right to have a playoff alter ego. In particular, Butler gave a herculean effort during the 2020 NBA Bubble playoffs, willing his Heat to victory time and time again by controlling the tempo of the game, getting to the foul line, making tough midrange shots, and doing the dirty work on defense.
There’s a reason why Butler’s most iconic NBA photo – the picture of him slumped over towards the baseline barrier – came during Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals, when he put up one of the best performances of all time by dropping a 35-point, 12-rebound, and 10-assist performance to stave off elimination. He also had another incredible game in a Heat victory during that series, when he put up a 40-point triple-double in Game 3.
With the exception of the 2021 NBA playoffs, where Jimmy Butler and the Heat stunk up the joint in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, the 33-year old forward has, time and time again, elevated his game in the postseason. He may not acknowledge Playoff Jimmy’s existence, but the whole world knows that it’s only a matter of time before he shows up once more.