The five-time All-Star, who was dubbed “The Most Interesting Man in the NBA” on the latest cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, opened up about his performance averaging 26.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 2.2 steals throughout the Heat’s six-game NBA Championship run against the Lakers.
Butler, who averaged 43 minutes of playtime per game, does not consider himself a hero. “Motherf*****, we were right there,” Butler said to SI, which reported that “the Finals loss still eats at him.”
His elite performance aside, teammate Duncan Robinson credited Butler for getting the Heat open to the possibility they could make it to the Finals. The 31-year-old ended nearly every conversation, whether it was after watching a movie or a casual catch-up in the locker room, by saying, “and we’re going to win a championship.”
“He was so adamant about what was going to happen,” Robinson told Sports Illustrated. “It gets to the point where you hear it enough, you assume that mentality as well. You’re buying into the psyche he’s constantly perpetuating.”
Butler Has No Regrets About Not Inviting His Family to Join Him in the NBA Bubble
Butler is admittedly obsessed with winning and has no regrets about not inviting his family inside the bubble, he told Sports Illustrated. “I had a good time, man, ” Butler said. “I learned a lot about myself. I had a lot of time to think, about basketball or life in general. And I picked up a lot of new hobbies.”
When Butler didn’t invite girlfriend Katilin Nowak, the mother of their baby daughter Rylee, it was a red flag to fans that maybe something wasn’t right in their relationship. He’s since been romantically linked to pop star Selena Gomez.
At the time, Butler explained, “This is a business trip for me. I’m not messing around,” he explained to NBA on TNT’s Allie LaForce. “Everyone wants to have their family, without a doubt. But we’ve been doing this for this long, what’s another couple of months? It is an individual decision and I respect that decision that my teammates make but I’m here for business.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra defended Butler’s extreme work ethic. In October, he said:
Jimmy has a superstar competitive spirit to him. If you try to evaluate him or put him in a conventional box of how you view a modern-day basketball player, you’re totally missing the boat on JB. He is a winner, he is a leader, he is a motivator, a mentor and just a supreme competitor. And when you get to this level, I think so many people forget about that, the competition and what you can bring out of an entire franchise when you’re wired to that level of fierce competitiveness.
Butler Told Goran Dragic He’d Hunt Him Down & Beat Him Up If He Didn’t’ Return to the Heat
According to Goran Dragic, Butler was a huge factor in getting the 12-year veteran to return to the Heat for another season. Dragic, who missed playing in the majority of the team’s playoff run due to a foot injury, was enjoying the brief off-season vacationing in his home country of Slovenia when Butler FaceTimed to share a pretty blunt message.
“He said, ‘You better sing with the Heat. If not, I know where you live. I’m going to hunt you down. And I’m going to beat you up,'” Dragic told Sports Illustrated with a laugh. For Butler, however, it was no laughing matter.
Butler recalled to Sports Illustrated, “I said, ‘G, we got to run this back, or I’m going to punch you in the head.” The threat worked. On November 20, Dragic signed a two-year, $37.4 million deal with the Heat.