Miami Heat All-Star forward Jimmy Butler likes to have fun. That much is evident from the outset of our meeting. His display name on this Thursday afternoon Zoom call reads “ymmij reltub.” His camera is off and his silence stretches an awkwardly long period of time, even after I ask whether he’s on the line and good to begin our interview.
“Yeah, I was just gonna see if y’all’s was gonna check if I was here or not,” he finally responds in a whimsical tone. “I was gonna be silent and act like my thing froze. I saw that on Instagram. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
That inclination for fun has led him to a partnership with Michelob Ultra. This year, he’s back for another cameo in the company’s Super Bowl commercial after joining the likes of Serena Williams, Alex Morgan, Peyton Manning, and Brooks Koepka inside a dimly lit bowling alley in 2022’s version. Now, he’s hitting the links alongside fellow athletic luminaries such as Williams, Morgan, Nneka Ogwumike, and Tony Romo, as well as “Succession” star Brian Cox.
On behalf of Michelob, Dime caught up with Butler last week to discuss this year’s Super Bowl shoot, whether he has a nickname on the golf course, how the Heat’s season has progressed, and more.
What do you have going on this year with Michelob and why are you excited to work on this spot?
I’m gonna ask you first, though. Which spot did you like better? I’m just curious.
Oh, that’s tough. I’ve only seen the preview for this year’s one. And I don’t play golf. I do enjoy bowling, so I do have to go with last year, just based off those factors.
OK, OK, understandable. Man, this year was a lot of fun. I would like to say that I’m more of a golfer than I am a bowler, if you’re gonna go one. Obviously, I’m the best at both. But we have plenty of new faces in this new spot. We still got some old heads, and I don’t mean old as in Serena is old, because she’s not. She’s the GOAT. I meant like we’ve been in spots together before. That’s what I mean. She’s the greatest of all time, we get it. Nneka, Alex, Tony, Canelo [Alvarez]. Brian, I think what this spot has that’s vastly different is you got all the great athletes, excluding myself, and they’re all coming together, and they’re legitimately just having fun. It’s like, hey, we’re in this new age of golf. We’re dancing, we’re having a Michelob Ultra. We’re enjoying what we’re doing. And at the same time, if we take it to the soccer pitch, Alex is gonna be Alex. If we take it to the tennis court, Serena and myself, we’re probably going to be who we are. In the boxing ring, I don’t think anybody wants to see Canelo in any way, shape, or form. And it goes down the line.
So, with all of those great names that I just mentioned, think about us all on a golf course and just having a blast. Like, that’s what this one’s all about.
I remember in last year’s commercial, you had the little Jimmy Pins nickname on your bowling shirt. Do we have a golf nickname for you? We got Jimmy Buckets. We got Jimmy Pins. Do we have a golf one?
You know what? I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting that. I need to think of one. Wowwww. Wow. I’m getting back to you on that one. I gotta think of one. Wow.
I thought you’d be ready for that! I thought that would be up your alley.
I know, I should’ve known. That’s my fault. Wow. I don’t have one yet, but I promise you we will get you one and it’s coming from me.
In general, since I know you’ve worked before with Michelob beyond these specific commercials, what appeals to you?
They’re real. They like to have fun, and they do so much. Even when you’re talking about the women that we have on this roster, when it comes to Serena, Alex, Nneka, bringing light to them and what they do. I don’t think too many people — men, women, boys, little girls — can do what they do. The fact that they made a $100 million commitment in 2021 to shed light on women in sports … not only are they making sure that we’re having a good time doing what we do, they’re making sure that, look, these women really, really do it and they do it at the highest level. We’re gonna make sure that not only are the guys taking notice, like everybody in the world is taking notice. So, I think that the main thing with Michelob Ultra that I love is the incredibly good people. They are so very real.
If we can switch to the hoops side of things, I’d love to know what’s gone well for you all as a team lately, going 17-8 since a 12-15 start. Where do you feel like you all have grown over the past month and a half, two months?
I would just say our amount of togetherness. When things weren’t going the way we wanted them to go, we didn’t go further away from each other. I think we got even closer as a unit, as a whole. And that’s how this thing is gonna be. It’s not gonna be all bad. And trust when I say it’s not going to be all good, either. But either way it goes, whether it’s on one end of the spectrum or right in the middle, we’re going to be there together. And I think that these last couple of weeks, we really embrace being together and we are one. So, moving forward, I think you’re going to be able to notice that and see that in these games.
How does having cohesion and prior experience making deep playoff runs together make it easier to weather some of those struggles?
I think there’s definitely a part of it. I can’t say that it doesn’t play a part. But I think more than anything, we all believe that we can win a championship. We all know where we stand in this league. We know where the ball has to go. We know everybody’s role, and I think that’s the most important thing. We know we’re expected to win. We know that we can win. To the best of my abilities and our abilities, we don’t pay too much attention to the outside noise and what everybody else is saying. I think that’s why we’re starting to pick up these Ws as of now. It’s always better late than never, but what a better time than now, You can’t find a better time than now.
A couple guys key to all this success are Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. What impresses you about the way that Bam and Tyler have made strides in their games since you joined the Heat?
Honestly, I see a lot of myself when you talk about the career path and trajectory of everything. They’ve figured it out. They realized that they belong in this league. They’re constantly proving that they belong in this league. Not only that, they’ve gotten better every single year, and they’re gonna continue to get better every single year. And before you know it, we’re all going to end up winning a championship together because I don’t plan on going anywhere. Tyler doesn’t plan on going anywhere. Bam doesn’t plan on going anywhere, so we’re gonna have to figure it out.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.