Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat made headlines for all the wrong reasons during a game against the Golden State Warriors on March 24.
During a time-out, Butler instigated what is now a well-publicized argument with head coach Erik Spoelstra, following the Warriors going on a big run to start the second half of the game. The argument began to get heated, which caused Heat lifer Udonis Haslem to step in and confront Butler for his petulance towards the team’s coaching staff.
Haslem, often seen as a culture-setting presence on the Heat’s bench, is no stranger to verbal or physical alterations and has always been seen as one of Miami’s physical enforcers and tone setters. As such, Haslem and Butler began to butt heads, as the disagreement became scolding hot.
Luckily, in a recent podcast interview with Cari Champion, Haslem finally shared what was said between himself and Butler, putting an end to weeks of speculation.
“We both said we were gonna kick each other’s a**. It’s been up and down the last couple of games, a lot of frustration, a lot of tension. We’re just trying to get the solution on how to win. I just wanted all of us to be on the same page, and as the captain, as a leader, it was just a situation where it could’ve gone either way.
I could’ve been a little more coolheaded. Jimmy could have been a little more coolheaded. But I don’t think either one of us regrets that situation because you look at the basketball we playing now,” Haslem said.
Spoelstra Confronted Butler in The Huddle
As a coach, Spoelstra is often seen as cool and collected and has become renowned for his innovative approach to game management. The Heat are often regarded as a modernized team, that pushes the boundaries of expectations.
But, beyond his borderline genius approach to the game, Spoelstra is a master motivator and knows how to light a fire under his team – even if it means ruffling some feathers and risking a physical altercation.
“It was pretty clear. We have a very competitive, gnarly group and we were getting our a**** kicked. Two straight games, we’re not playing to the level we want to play, and I would say virtually every single person in that huddle was pretty animated about our disappointment in how we were playing,” Spoelstra told the media following the altercation.
Of course, whenever there is an animated discussion in a huddle, there will always be narratives that form around a team. Rumors of discontent or a rift between the coaching staff and their star player are bound to surface, but for the most part, Miami has remained steadfast in its acceptance that competitive tempers simply boiled over.
Butler’s Contract Likely to Keep Him in Miami
Even if there is a rift between Spoelstra and Butler, the latter isn’t likely to be suiting up for a new team next season, simply due to his contract situation. During the past off-season, Butler put pen to paper on a three-year $146 million contract, with the first year due to begin next season.
With such a high salary at the age of 32, Miami would find it hard to trade Butler for a star-level return, especially given Butler’s reputation as a difficult member of the locker room and his recent injury issues.
As such, Spoelstra and Butler will need to work out their differences and get back on the same page, which assuming Miami embarks on a deep playoff run, shouldn’t be too difficult for the highly competitive pairing.
Butler joined the Heat to contend for championships, so as long as Miami continues to be in the mix late in the post-season, we can safely assume any ill-feeling will quickly become water under the bridge.