Jimmy Butler famously forced his way out of Minnesota with a blunt practice tirade that targeted his Timberwolves teammates for their work ethic.
The four-time All-Star told Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill in a candid interview published Tuesday that some of his teammates in Philadelphia also fell short of his work ethic during his brief stint with the 76ers last season.
“No,” Butler said when asked if his 76ers teammates worked as hard as him. “But everybody don’t do that. Everybody don’t work like that.”
Contrary to the image that came attached to his rant that called out Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in 2018, Butler presented a nuanced approach to how his Philadelphia teammates worked at the game of basketball.
“That’s just what it is,” Butler told Goodwill. “I’ve learned that over the years. Is there something wrong with that? No. There’s not.”
Also unlike Minnesota, Butler didn’t name names.
Change in tone from Timberwolves criticism
It’s a stark contrast to the well-publicized incident in Minnesota that reportedly saw Butler hurl profanities at Towns and Wiggins, among others — reports he was happy to confirm later with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
“Am I being tough on him, yeah? That’s who I am,” Butler said in 2018 of his approach with Towns. “I’m not the most talented player. Who’s the most talented player on our team? KAT. Who’s the most God-gifted player on our team? Wiggs. … Who plays the hardest? Me. I play hard. I play really hard.”
Butler: Pat Riley is ‘me times 10’
Now a member of the Miami Heat — a team he chose to join when he agreed to a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason — Butler sounds content with his fit with a franchise that’s known for its culture and work ethic established under longtime team president Pat Riley.
“The organization lets me be me,” Butler told Goodwill. “To a T. And they love it. Coach Pat? He’s me times 10. He’s straight to the point, don’t care how he say it.
“But you know what he’s trying to say. And you know that he’s trying to help you. And you know that he wants to win.”
Surprise start in Miami
The Heat are off to 12-4 start that has them sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Butler is the only star on a team that’s succeeded this season with the emergence of undrafted rookie point guard Kendrick Nunn and center Bam Adebayo, who’s thrived since the offseason departure of Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Rookie sharpshooter Tyler Herro has shown promise as the team’s fourth-leading scorer while Goran Dragic helps Butler carry the load as a leading veteran voice.
Not many expected the Heat to show this kind of promise without another star joining Butler in Miami. But so far, what they’re doing is working.
Butler’s message to his critics
Butler told Goodwill he doesn’t care what people outside the NBA think of his game. But as he and the Heat are off to a good start, he slipped in a message to his doubters.
“If you want to judge Jimmy Butler the basketball player, please come do what I f---ing do every day. You can’t do it.”
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