Sports

This is the Jimmy Butler I remember

That’s about how his whole series has gone.

That’s about how his whole series has gone.
Image: Getty Images

The Bucks-Heat series was supposed to be one of the most intriguing of the first round. Last year’s Eastern Conference champ, going up against a Bucks team that, if they were to spit it early for the second straight year, could be facing some kind of organizational overhaul. There was the added spice of the Heat being the team that put Milwaukee to the sword last year as well. Both teams really needed this series. For the neutral, I guess it’s unfortunate that only one team has played like it.

The Bucks dog-walked the Heat for the second straight game, 113-84. Milwaukee didn’t even need Giannis to be all that good, as he only scored 17, but was only too happy to see five other Bucks score in double figures as they were never under threat.

It would have been nice if, already down 0-2, the Heat had someone to grab the game by the neck and will his team to victory. Someone who is supposed to stop the flow of shit and give his team a stronghold to get back into the series. Someone who definitely wants everyone around the NBA to think he’s that guy.

Oh, right, they do, it’s Jimmy Butler. Except, he ain’t that guy.

Butler will probably always point to that trip to the Finals last year as proof that he is that guy. But let’s be frank about what Butler is. He’s the same guy who sold out his teammates in Chicago to the press before even talking to them in the locker room, all in the pursuit of being Chester to Dwyane Wade’s Spike as Wade cashed out one last check with the Bulls. He’s the one who bus-tossed his teammates in Minnesota knowing the press was watching to make himself look like the savior before being traded out of town. He’s the one who was in Philadelphia for about six minutes before demanding the offense be catered to him, and the one the Sixers were all too happy to let go.

The stories of Butler wanting to appear like an actual NBA titan, without actually doing the things that make one such, are rampant. Oh, he’ll do everything to look like he’s doing them, like show up at the practice facility at 4 a.m. and make sure the press knows about it. That’s the kind of shit they fawn over, even though no one in their right mind shows up to work six hours early. It wouldn’t be productive. It’s psychotic. It’s a show.

But Butler knows where the soft spots are to get the right kind of coverage. You show up before dawn and alert the media about your 4 a.m. arrival. Or dog out your teammates in a practice when you know the beat writers are watching. Or the handful of other shows Butler has put on for those who will write about it later, for that exact purpose. It’s what you do when what you’re most interested in is glitzing up the name Jimmy Butler.

I’ve seen Jimmy Butler. I watched him sell out the Bulls in a playoff game to have a pissing contest with Derrick Rose on court. I’ve seen him make sure to get a photo op with Mark Wahlberg directly after the Bulls got blown out when he was supposedly the crux of the team. Fans in Minnesota or Philly or Miami have certainly seen other instances.

His team is getting punked so far, and he’s a reason why. A big one. He hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a game. He’s shooting 33 percent from the field. He’s made four treys in three games.

Yeah, the Bucks have turned up their defense. But if Butler is who he desperately needs you to think he is, he’d find a way. But he isn’t that guy. He’s all casing and no meat. Eventually, everyone’s going to see it.

Let’s go around the world quickly. The Nashville Predators bit it in overtime, 4-3 to the Canes, to lose their opening round series in six games. It had a bit of a sweetener on top:

Habs not out

Staying in hockey, there’s something of a misconception, because of the array of offensive talent they have, that the Maple Leafs can’t play defense. It’s not true, they’re one of the better defensive teams in the league, and how much defense do you have to play when you can score this much?

Well, the Leafs aren’t helping the cause when they lose a game like this:

Whoops.

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