Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in all the drama of the NBA and forget that the league and all its internal and external machinations are purely a mass entertainment product.
That goes for everything that happens on and off the court, including the rumblings of inner-organizational turmoil, the never-ending coaching carousel (though oddly quiet this year), the midseason trade deadline, free agency, and, yes, the petty little beefs between so-called enemies.
That’s not to say some of the NBA’s beefs and rivalries aren’t legitimate. Indeed, some of them are intensely, palpably real. But let’s face it, most of them aren’t. This month’s honoree, Jimmy Butler, gets a special shoutout for straddling that increasingly-amorphous line between reality and fiction.
At last month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Butler did something we’ve personally never seen before when he opted to sit out the entire exhibition. Butler was perfectly healthy at the time, although he later cited fatigue as the primary factor in that otherwise curious decision.
In one respect, it was understandable given that his head coach, Tom Thibodeau, is notorious for running his star players into the ground like they were an ’86 Cutlass Supreme. Plus prior to his injury, Butler was leading the entire league in minutes per game. (In light of his injury, the dubious wisdom behind that strategy is a whole other discussion).