The alleged strained relationship between the Bulls’ two main alpha dogs, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, has been a topic of conversation in NBA circles for almost a year now. It started during last year’s preseason, when reports out of Bulls training camp indicated that Butler was not happy with what he was perceiving as special treatment Rose was getting during practices. Further reports did not cease throughout the year, and tensions seemed to culminate during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cavs in May, when it seemed as if Rose was deferring to Butler on the court, almost out of spite, as if to say, “you want this to be your team? Fine, go ahead and take over, Mr. Leader.”
Of course, Butler did not exactly take over, and the Bulls were run out of the gym in a blowout loss that ended their season on a huge downer.
Now, I never like to speculate on a player’s body language on the court. There could have been any number of personal reasons for Rose to have been deferring to Butler during that game, if in fact that’s what he was doing. For instance, maybe Rose just wasn’t feeling it, and felt like deferring to Butler gave them a better chance to win. Or, maybe Thibs asked him to. He was the coach, after all, and it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to have been calling the shots that day, unlike his opposing coach (he is still employed).
Speculation aside, Butler was finally put on the spot during an interview with Rolling Stone published on Thursday. In the interview a question allowed Butler to finally address the elephant in the room: Is there any beef between him and Rose?
“I don’t think we have any issues. I think we’re fine. I think we’re two basketball players that want to win games. That’s where I’ll leave it at.”
You think?! “Hey, way to put Bulls fan’s minds at ease Jimmy! You’ve got me convinced,” this particular Bulls fan said, while oozing sarcasm.
Now, granted, from a fan perspective, I don’t exactly need Butler and Rose to be best friends on and off the court. Sure, it would be nice, it’s always more enjoyable to root for a team that seems to genuinely like one another, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker. Plenty of NBA Championships have been won when the team’s main alpha dogs weren’t besties. Ray Allen and the Celtics in 2008 come to mind, as well as Kobe and Shaq, as they put their finishing touch on a three-peat in the early aughts. So, yes, it happens.
Now that they’re locked in as teammates for the foreseeable future, with Butler reportedly inking a five-year max contract worth near $95 million, these two will have no choice but to be the latest duo to make it work.
Or maybe they’re way closer than Jimmy’s RS interview made it sound.
(via Rolling Stone)