Sportskeeda Exclusive: "I'm where I belong, I guess where I should've been a long time ago" - Jimmy Butler on making Miami Heat his own and his regrets from Philadelphia, Erik Spoelstra calls him "one of the ultimate competitors" in the profession

Jimmy Butler has been in stellar form during the 2022 NBA playoffs
Jimmy Butler has been in stellar form during the 2022 NBA playoffs
Jeff Skversky

Jimmy Butler and his fiery demeanor have been on fire for the Miami Heat. As was the case during the Heat's impressive run in the 2020 postseason, Butler is stepping up his game in the playoffs once again.

So far in the NBA playoffs this year, Butler is putting up Michael Jordan-esque numbers as he chases his first NBA Championship.

Jimmy Butler has not scored 40 points or more in a game during the regular season once, not once since joining the Heat. However, in the playoffs, that's a much different story.

Butler is on fire with five 40-point games with the Heat, including another impressive Game 1 showing against Boston as they took a 1-0 series lead.

After scoring 41 in Game 1 against the Celtics, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised Butler for his play and drive to be the best player on the court.

“If you're driven by competition, and the stakes get raised, you're going to raise your level of play."

The six-time All-Star is so intense and so driven he can rub coaches, teammates and opposing players the wrong way. It’s happened at every stop along the way in Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Miami.

Things appeared to be heading south in South Beach earlier this season when he had a verbal altercation with Spoelstra in the middle of a game.

Jimmy Butler is the best two way player left in the Playoffs and he continues to dominate! He proved himself again last night scoring 41 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals.

Cooler heads eventually prevailed as Jimmy Butler and the Heat worked things out behind closed doors.

Things have worked out on the court too, as Miami has been the best team in the NBA since their blowup on the bench back in March.

Spoelstra recently mentioned -

“Jimmy is a great competitor. I think he’s one of the ultimate competitors in this profession. I think a lot of things get lost in translation.”

Jimmy Butler is so competitive and driven to be great, that he will wake up before the sun comes up to shoot baskets, even after a late-night game the day before.

When Butler played for the 76ers, he would often be up at 6 am to shoot hoops by himself at a local health club in suburban Philadelphia. Fellow health club members and staff couldn’t believe their eyes when Jimmy Butler popped in for these early sessions. It didn’t matter that there was a game that night or a late game the night prior, Butler worked and worked and worked.

Jimmy Butler is well revered for his work ethic and passion

Jimmy Butler and Miami Heat forward PJ Tucker
Jimmy Butler and Miami Heat forward PJ Tucker

His desire and passion to be elite is second to none, and at times that passion and his strong will to win can be misconstrued.

Butler is on his fourth team in six years, but Miami appears to be home for the long run. The 32-year-old is locked into a four-year, $184M extension until 2026 and despite the tension, earlier this season, Butler and his coach have cleared the air.

Jimmy Butler shared his thoughts before Miami's series with Boston -

"I’m where I belong. I guess where I should have been a long time ago. A place where I’m welcome."

While Miami is home, there is a big piece of Butler who wanted to stay in Philadelphia. He loved playing with Joel Embiid and has told Embiid that publicly and privately.

“Yes I still wish I was on this team. I have so much love for Joel Embiid,” Butler said after eliminating the 76ers earlier this month. “I’m not going to lie to you. I've got a lot of love for this city. A lot of love for guys in that locker room.”

While happy in Miami, Butler is still bothered by the way things ended in Philadelphia after just half of a season.

Butler couldn’t help himself as he was heard walking off the court in Philadelphia last week, as he headed into the Heat locker room.

“Tobias Harris over me?”

Butler shouted multiple times, referring to the 76ers keeping Harris instead of Butler.

The fact of the matter is, that the Sixers did not pick Harris over Butler in July of 2019 before they worked out a sign and trade with Miami. Butler had concerns, including what he felt was a lack of leadership in Philadelphia at the time, and he was not afraid to voice that, which rubbed some people the wrong way.

Butler spoke up in team meetings and film sessions during his short stay with the 76ers.

Jimmy Butler is the first player with multiple 40-point playoff games without making a three in the last 10 years.

The more significant issue was ball-handling between Butler and Ben Simmons, who has also moved on. Both Jimmy Butler and Simmons felt they needed the ball. At the time, Simmons was untouchable before things went south, and Simmons ended up in Brooklyn with the Nets after he demanded a trade earlier this season.

Now home in Miami in his third season, Jimmy Butler wants to bring home his first title, which will justify that edge and drive he’s displayed his entire career.

Edited by Evan Tiwari


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