Make no mistake about it — Jimmy Butler is a different kind of dude. The Miami Heat star’s competitive streak is a throwback to the NBA tough guys of the 1980s and ’90s. On top of that, he speaks his mind at every turn, regardless of how it might be interpreted.
When he was with the T-Wolves and he didn’t like the effort he was getting out of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, for example, they knew as much — along with the rest of the basketball world. And joining a winning organization in the Heat has done little to douse that fire.
Even when things are peachy-keen, Butler is a sure bet for a wild sound bite. Asked recently about a returning Kyle Lowry, he waxed philosophical about Kyle Guy instead before noting that the six-time All-Star was just “OK” and had been “getting on my nerves a lot lately.”
So, when the subject of brawling came up during a recent Q&A session, it should come as no surprise that Butler came hard with a scorching hot take.
Butler Wants to Brawl
On Tuesday, Complex put out an interview with Butler which saw the Heat’s heart and soul touch on a myriad of subjects. At one point, he was asked if the league is lacking the big-time rivalries that were such a big part of its glory days. His answer: those rivalries still exist but that it’s a different league now.
However, he kind of wishes it wasn’t.
As he continued, Butler served up a wild endorsement of throwing down on the hardwood (you know, with hands and fists?), something that hasn’t really been a thing since the Malice at the Palace in 2004:
“There are some real rivalries out there. I just think the game has changed in a lot of ways. They’re not letting you get into no brawls no more. Nobody’s going to let you do that,” he said. “I wish that they would let us do that a little bit, if I’m just being honest.”
Butler lamented that the physicality that was commonplace during previous eras of the Association is a big no-no today. Consequently, he finds himself yearning for the past.
“I really do think they’re still there. The game has just changed. It’s not as much banging and knocking people to the ground anymore. You can’t do it like that — you get a flagrant one, a flagrant two, a tech, something. I wish it would go back to that time.”
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Butler on the ‘Rivalry’ With the Jokic Bros.
Although Butler maintains that rivalries are still a thing in the Association, he wanted no part of labeling this year’s back-and-forth between Miami and the Jokic clan as such.
“I don’t think that’s a rivalry. It sounds good. But I don’t even want to get into it,” Butler said. “[Nikola Jokic is] a hell of a player.”
That’s a more measured response than the one he had when the Nuggets star rammed Miami’s Markieff Morris in the back during an early November game, an incident that Butler’s teammate has yet to recover from.
As noted by The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the Heat’s leading scorer could be heard yelling, “Bring your ass to the back!” in the immediate aftermath of the cheap shot.