The drama surrounding the Bulls this offseason has largely focused on their backcourt. That’s because former MVP Derrick Rose and current All-Star Jimmy Butler are on seemingly divergent paths in the NBA. Rose’s decline — largely as a result of injury — juxtaposes Jimmy’s ascension to one of the top wingmen in the NBA. So talks of a beef were bound to occur. And occur they did.
First, a Chicago radio host reported that anonymous sources saying Derrick had a “passive-aggressive” reaction to Butler’s All-Star performance last season. And things just snowballed from there.
Parsing Butler’s — largely innocuous — language later in the offseason, it seemed like there actually was some tension beneath the surface of their on-court partnership. Things got worse when Butler casually let slip that they’re not so close off the court. They don’t have to be, obviously, but in Chicago, it acted as an embalming agent for the still unsubstantiated story where no one would go on the record.
Later, Butler reiterated there was no beef, but all of a sudden Butler’s words were cast as a guilty man proclaiming his innocence. Then, a source told Joe Cowley of the Sun-Times that Butler didn’t respect Rose’s work ethic. Finally, on media day, Rose blamed race for the storyline, which is complicated and probably wrong, but only in a color-blind vacuum. Unfortunately, America is nowhere near that color blindness.
Now that you’re caught up, try this on for size: After Butler’s breakout 2014-15 season, Rose actually bought him a designer watch “with a price tag college-tuition-paying parents would recognize.”