Jimmy Butler once swore he would never play in a Miami Heat jersey, but he says now that he intends to retire with the franchise.
Prior to the start of the 2023 NBA Finals in Denver, Butler was asked by ESPN’s Malika Andrews about an interview he gave when still a member of the Chicago Bulls, in which he said he’d never wear a Heat jersey.
“When I’m coming into the league, the Heat used to beat the Bulls all the time when they had the Big 3, the Heatles, whatever you want to call them,” said Butler, who was drafted by the Bulls in 2011 out of Marquette. “So me getting drafted to the Bulls, we can’t like the Miami Heat. You can’t like D-Wade even though you went to the same school.
“Then you fast forward and I’m playing with D-Wade with the Bulls, I’m like, ‘This guy is not a bad guy.’ It was just [Tom Thibodeau] that kept hitting me upside my head. And now, full circle, it’ll be the last jersey that I wear.”
Butler spent his first six seasons playing in Chicago but, after blossoming into a three-time All-Star, was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played only one full season in Minnesota before wearing out his welcome and getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Butler again clashed with coaches and teammates, and was unceremoniously flipped to the Miami Heat in the summer of 2019.
Since then, Butler has revived and reshaped his reputation. In four years in Miami, Butler has meshed with the organization’s culture and led the Heat to two Finals and three conference finals. Coach Erik Spoelstra has said multiple times that they never want Butler to apologize for being himself.
Butler, 33, is the unquestioned face of the franchise and often ramps up his game for the playoffs. He’s averaging 28.5 points on 48.3% shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists in this postseason.