Is Jimmy Butler on the Heat’s Mount Rushmore?

There is a list of Miami Heat Mount Rushmore caliber players, including Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Hardaway, Glen Rice, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem. But Jimmy Butler deserves a spot.
Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat / Lauren Sopourn/GettyImages

The Miami Heat have allowed Jimmy Butler to be authentically himself both on and off the court, and the team followed his lead in what has resulted in two NBA Finals appearances and one Eastern Conference finals in just four seasons. It didn’t take much time to realize the grit and grind of this franchise’s culture was a match made in heaven for Butler’s play style. There have been several Mount Rushmore types of talent that became Heat legends, but Butler is a guy who has earned to be cemented at the top list of players to ever put on that Miami jersey.

Since joining the Heat, he has achieved Hall of Fame worthy achievements on route to building quite an impressive four-year resume in South Beach. Butler is an Eastern Conference finals MVP, 2x Eastern Conference champion and reached the Eastern Conference finals three times; falling short in the final seconds of a game 7 against the Boston Celtics back in 2022. He has made the All-Star team twice (2020, 2022), All-NBA second team (2023), All-NBA third team twice (2020,2021) and the All-NBA defensive team (2021). He was also the 2021 NBA steals leader.

In each of those deep playoff runs he has upped his level of play in every single category compared to the regular season. “Playoff Jimmy” has proven time and time again to be a real thing. He’s been the catalyst to all this postseason success over the years and has been able to lead the team to the Finals as both a five and eight seed.

Butler has averaged 24.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 64 playoff games for the Heat in his career.

He has had some dominant individual outings along the way, including a franchise-high 56-point performance in game 4 of the Milwaukee Bucks series a year ago. A list of his other best statistical games during his Heat playoff tenure include:

  • 47 PTS, 9 RBS, 8 ASTS, 4 STLS vs BOS
  • 45 PTS, 5 RBS, 5 ASTS, 2 STLS vs ATL
  • 42 PTS, 8 RBS, 4 ASTS, 2 STLS vs MIL
  • 41 PTS, 9 RBS, 5 ASTS, 4 STLS vs BOS
  • 40 PTS, 6 ASTS, 3 RBS, 2 STLS vs PHI
  • 40 PTS, 13 ASTS, 11 RBS, 2 STLS vs LAL
  • 40 PTS, 4 RBS, 2 ASTS, 2 STLS vs MIL
  • 36 PTS, 10 RBS, 4 ASTS, 4 STLS vs ATL
  • 35 PTS, 7 ASTS, 5 RBS, 6 STLS vs BOS
  • 35 PTS, 11 ASTS, 5 RBS, 3 STLS vs MIL
  • 35 PTS, 9 RBS, 1 ASTS, 1 STLS vs BOS
  • 35 PTS, 12 RBS, 11 ASTS, 5 STLS vs LAL

Butler is the first player in franchise history to record multiple triple-doubles in an NBA Finals back in 2020 against the LA Lakers. Aside from that list of stat lines, he also has four additional playoff games of 30 points or more on the Heat.

The Butler experience has been historical to witness as a Heat fan. If anybody is going to improve their level of play, why not do it when the stage is at its brightest in meaningful games? Butler’s age and mileage haven't made him physically capable of this dominance all year round, but he makes sure to show up for his team when it matters most. Even so, he is still an All-Star caliber player throughout the year. But he turns into a tier-one superstar come April.

Butler opened up to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes in an interview a couple of months ago about the whole idea of “Playoff Jimmy”:

"“How can I turn into the greatest basketball player in the world all of a sudden? I don’t know, man. I’m just different.”"

Jimmy Butler

"“I think this is when you’re supposed to be playing your best basketball and find a way to get your team to win these games when you’re talking about the playoffs coming around
“I think this is when you’re supposed to be playing your best basketball and find a way to get your team to win these games when you’re talking about the playoffs coming around. But even right now, you’re getting everybody into their roles. You’re getting in a rhythm… speaking for myself and everybody else in this locker room, we want to win. That’s our focus.”"

Jimmy Butler

During his Heat tenure so far, he has made the All-Star team twice and made an All-NBA team three times. However, the biggest goal remains the same; to secure the franchise’s fourth NBA championship.

Sadly, Butler and the Heat’s championship dreams were derailed by injuries this season. During the first play-in game, he went down with a season-ending MCL sprain. Somehow, he remarkably finished the game, but was never able to make a return in time for another playoff run.

Miami had enough to sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed again, but more recently just got knocked out of the first round by the Boston Celtics in five games.

Now all the attention turns to the direction of the Heat front office on the next steps. This includes Butler’s contract situation, who is locked in for another two seasons but due for a contract extension this summer.

Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reported that Butler could be aiming for a two-year $113 million extension. Could Butler’s Heat Mount Rushmore status help in his negotiations? Nobody wants to see another Dwyane Wade situation play out, but with Butler aging and coming off a bad injury along with this roster needing changes, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

About to go into his age 35 season, Butler has shown he has the skill set to age like fine wine, with “Playoff Jimmy” abilities still left in the tank. It is important that the front office does what it takes to make their franchise player happy but keep flexibility to make roster improvements.

As the Heat gear up for another potential run next season, a healthy and re-signed Butler would be as hungry as ever. A title would be the icing on the cake to what has already been one of the best Heat careers of all time, and hopefully, the extension negotiations work out for both sides so Butler can end his career the right way.

No matter what happens, though, Butler has done enough to earn a spot on the Heat's Mount Rushmore.