Jimmy Butler Wanted To Join The Heat Because Erik Spoelstra And Pat Riley Said He’d Get ‘To Be You’

It’s been quite a journey for Jimmy Butler over the past year. After his high-profile breakup with the Minnesota Timberwolves, it appeared he’d found a landing spot with the Philadelphia 76ers. Early on, he seemed to mesh well with the young stars on their roster in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who appeared to be a stark contrast from the frustrations he voiced in Minnesota.

Yet, even after a strong postseason run that ultimately ended in despair at the hands of a Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater, Butler decided it was time for another change of scenery and found himself in South Beach with the Miami Heat. Butler was able to set the tone from the start with what he’s cultivated as his signature demanding and unapologetic nature, and it seems that wasn’t by happenstance.

In a recent interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Butler talked about his decision to leave what was seemingly an ideal situation in Philadelphia for an up-and-coming team in Miami, and unsurprisingly, so much of it had to do with the culture that Pat Riley has built around high levels of fitness and commitment.

“The best thing about it is, coach Pat was just like, ‘you get to be you, who you are,’ coach Spo [said], ‘be you,'” Butler said. “And I’m so I’m just out there being me.”

The result is that the Heat are off to one of their best starts in franchise history, currently in the No. 2 spot in the East at 18-6 on the season and riding a three-game win streak. Through it all, Butler is averaging 20.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and seven assists. They’ll put that win streak on the line when they host the red-hot Lakers at home on Friday night.