Jimmy Butler is the person who arguably benefited the most from the Miami Heat’s Finals run last season. For the past few years, he’d earned a reputation for being too demanding of his teammates, and after two straight exits from the Timberwolves and the 76ers, it was starting to look like Butler might well be the culprit he appeared to be.
But like so many things in the NBA, it turns out he just needed to find the right fit. And the Miami ended up being the perfect landing spot. Team president Pat Riley is notorious for pushing his players to the limit physically and mentally, and when it comes to pure competitive nature, he’s in the same class as Michael Jordan.
From that perspective, Butler is the ideal Heat player. And knowing just how demanding he is of his teammates, it speaks volumes to their character when he goes to great lengths to express just how badly he wants to play with them. So it wasn’t that much of a surprise to learn that he jokingly threatened Goran Dragic physically if he didn’t return to Miami in free agency.
More Goran Dragic to AP: Jimmy Butler called him last week and (half-seriously, we think) suggested physical violence could be coming his way if he didn’t return to Miami. “Jimmy’s a tough guy. … I didn’t want him chasing my ass,” Dragic said.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 20, 2020
Dragic proved in Orlando that he has a lot left in the tank before his untimely injury effectively torpedoed their title chances. Heading into next season, a healthy and intact Heat squad will have the opportunity to show that last season wasn’t a fluke, though they’ll have to make it through another gauntlet in the East that’s working to get better in free agency as well.