What a season.
Who would’ve thought a Jimmy Butler-led team had the potential to compete for an NBA championship.
Of course, Jimmy did.
“We’ve got some dogs,” Butler told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press back in October of 2019. “We’ve got some guys that have something to prove every single day. Not just in a game, but out here in practice. Guys that are competing, not scared of anybody in a Heat jersey, not scared of anybody that’s not in a Heat jersey. That’s what I love about it. You know each and every day, each and every game, we’re going to fight, man. And I’m proud of that. I’m happy about that.”
Flashback to 356 days later, and Butler was on point. This Heat team shocked the world, knocking down the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics to be crowned Eastern Conference champions. Better yet, they became the first No. 5 seed since 1999 to reach the NBA Finals.
At the end, they took a LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led Los Angeles Lakers club to six games, all while suffering unfortunate injuries to Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. This team exceeded expectations tremendously.
Butler cares to disagree.
“This is what my team needed me to do, the organization asked of me,” Butler said. “I told them that I would win them one and I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain, so that means I got to do it next year. I told Coach Pat [Riley], I told Coach [Erik Spoelstra] I’m here to win one. I didn’t do my job, so moving forward, I got to hold up my end of the bargain.”
The five-time All-Star was nothing short of a superstar during this postseason run, averaging 22.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 20 games played. As for in the Finals, Butler notched two triple-doubles, posting 26.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
Despite his heroic play throughout it all, Butler acknowledges that none of those statistics matter to him. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning, and that’s something he vows to do ‘for the city.’
“I didn’t win so none of the stats matter,” he said. “We don’t play for stats here, we don’t for anything else except for the win. I didn’t [get] that, I didn’t do my job and I’ll be better.”
Butler took to social media postgame to show gratitude towards the Heat franchise, including his teammates, coaches and Heat Nation. He finished the post off with special statement.
“Best believe we will be back.”
What a start it’s been for Miami’s new franchise player. For a team with no top five draft picks and seven undrafted players on the roster, all ran by a guy many considered ‘a bad teammate,’ the future is bright.
This is just the start.