When the Miami Heat won Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoff series, officially punching their ticket to the second round, they did so without the help of two starting players, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry.
While Butler was dealing with right knee inflammation, and Lowry was ruled out with a left hamstring injury, they were active cheerleaders on the sidelines throughout the game on Tuesday, April 26 at the FTX Arena in Miami.
In the second quarter, following an impressive 10-0 run by Max Strus, Butler celebrated by gyrating his hips in a sexually explicit manner, which earned laughs from his teammates. The video of the moment was quickly turned into a GIF, which the Heat’s official account shared with their 4.9 million Twitter followers and the team’s 5.4 million Instagram followers.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
Two days later, both the Heat and Butler are literally paying for their R-rated humor. Per NBC Sports, the NBA released the following statement on Thursday, April 28:
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler has been fined $15,000 for making an obscene gesture, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, President, League Operations. The Heat organization has also been fined $15,000 for posting the act on social media.
The incident, which took place from the team’s bench area, occurred with 1:43 remaining in the second quarter in the Heat’s 97-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series on April 26
Too bad for the NBA, while the Heat may have wiped the video of Butler’s gyrations from their feeds, the moment will live on forever on social medie.
While the NBA is attempting to crack down harder on profanity and misconduct, this might’ve been a retroactive move for the league.
“Since when did the league turn into The Ed Sullivan Show with Butler playing Elvis Pressley, whose hip gyrations were deemed too obscene for TV audiences?” NBC Sports reporter Dan Feldman wrote. “This is also a classic case of the Streisand Effect. A forgettable clip is now drawing wider attention only because the NBA issued this fine.”
In response, Butler shared a video on his Instagram page with a direct message to the NBA. He posted a compilation clip of teammate Tyler Herro and wrote, “while y’all announcing me getting fined. hurry up and announce sixth man of the year @nolimitherro.”
The Origin of Butler’s Injury Remains Unclear
Throughout four playoff games, Butler averaged 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.8 steals. While Butler missed a total of 25 games during the regular season due to a tail bone contusion, sprained right ankle, right and left big toe irritation, sinus congestion, and one veteran rest day — he was never ruled out due to a knee injury like the one that kept him out for Game 5.
While the Heat announced that “there are no tests planned” for Butler’s injury — a great sign — it’s curious how and when the six-time All-Star got hurt.
“He was sore yesterday with his knee, got a little bit [worse] today, and then the training staff just made the determination that he will not be available,” Spoelstra said prior to tipoff on Tuesday, April 26. As for when the injury occurred, neither Spoelstra nor Butler were completely sure.
“That sometimes just happens in the playoffs,” Spoelstra replied. “You’re doing things so hard and so intense. But he’s just not quite ready.”
At the time, there was great concern for how the Heat would fare without two of their biggest stars on the court. However, Gabe Vincent again filled in for Lowry, Victor Oladipo started in place of Butler, and the team pulled off an impressive 97-94 victory.
“This was just a really inspiring team win,” Spoelstra said after the game. “Everybody that played had their fingerprints on this. We clearly had some adversity in this game, not having Kyle and Jimmy, and our group doesn’t even blink.”
The Heat are Still Waiting to Figure Out Their Round 2 Opponent
The gamble of resting both Lowry and Butler in a possible series-clinching game paid off. Now, the team has nearly an entire week off before the second round of playoffs starts, as the NBA announced that Round 2 won’t start until Monday, May 2.
As for whether or not Butler (and Lowry) will be able to start Game 1 of the second round, things are looking good. Sun Senintel’s Ira Winderman reported, “A source familiar with Butler’s knee inflammation and Lowry’s hamstring strain said it is possible one or both might have been able to play had a Thursday Game 6 been needed against the Hawks.”
If both players were near getting the green light to play if the Hawks pushed a Game 6, it’s safe to assume they will both be ready to roll when the Heat face either the Philadelphia 76ers (3-2) or the Toronto Raptors (2-3) next week.
READ NEXT: NBA Insider on Heat Guard: ‘No Way He Gets the Max’ [EXCLUSIVE]