Has anyone ever been a better fit than Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat?


In his first moment in the headlines as a member of the Miami Heat last fall, Jimmy Butler was unsuccessful.

It was a tough conditioning test in which players from the Heat Camp were legend within the league prior to training camp. Some athletic coaches claim that it is the most sought after NBA or NFL.

For some players, it takes months to prepare for it.

To be admitted to training camp, a player has to walk 10 times the length of the court within one minute. Then a two-minute recovery. Then. Two minute recovery. Then. and then. and then.

It is so fierce that by the time he was a multi-time winner, Dwayne Wade pulled up the ranks and exited every fall.

Just as Butler was preparing to launch his first try, Pat Riley, the team’s president and franchise godfather, appeared on the sideline. Butler looked at him, his adrenaline pumping immediately.

For the first several rounds, Butler was flying through drills. But by the fifth round, his back tightened; It was very difficult. When it was over, Butler had failed.

The next morning, Butler woke up before 4 in the morning, going to the gym and ready to try again. As he did so, he was almost afraid to see his phone. He could see the title, “$ 140 million max player fails conditioning test.”

It did not come. The Heat kept it quiet; They did not want to embarrass him. They wanted to support him.

But 4 of his practices became public. And within days teammates were joining him, he tweeted coming to the gym at 3:30 am

Butler never felt so at home.

It’s hard to explain how much Riley and head coach Eric Spoelstra love Butler. He has few players in the last 25 years.

Mourn Alonzo. Tim Hardaway. Wade Udonis Haslem.

But for Butler as tough, tough, nose-focused, team-focused, no-nonsense leader as they can be, they have become faster and harder. Even Wade, who has taken a kind of captain emeritus role, is beaten.

“[Wade’s] Always in my phone, telling me about the game, what to look for, “said Butler.” Whenever I go back to the locker room she is the first person to text me tonight. “

Spoelstra, who barely blinks or sleeps when in playoff mode, was walking on Monday night. Riley was sitting in the upper deck, participating in his first game in the bubble of Florida. But his heart was probably bouncing in his chest when he put Butler in the 15-quarter mark as the Heat beat the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 115-104 to take a 1-0 lead.

“He just fits everything about us, our clothes and who we are,” Spoelstra said. “These are extreme circumstances, they’re not easy for anyone. And you need a level of discipline, structure and ludicrousness. Jimmy, despite that, maybe, the narrative is out, he’s a very likable guy in the locker room. Is., And I think that helps in a setting like this. ”

Let’s be clear. There are times when Butler ranks his teammates, his coaches and his front office. And there are times when they do this with him. In the past, these moments have sometimes defined Butler.

Two teams traded him. Another, the Philadelphia 76ers, did not prioritize keeping him. This is a superstar not a passenger’s resume.

The difference is that Heat, under the leadership of Riley’s long-respected principles for team building, does not feel like a little friction. They also welcome it in a fair amount, because it is productive to handle and move forward. Riley, and by extension Spoelstra, believe it can sharpen the senses, deepen the bond and instill confidence.

The Heat played like a team that relied on Butler unconditionally in Game 1. Even though he played through a shoulder injury at the end of the quarterfinal against the Indiana Pacers, he looked relaxed and healthy, putting energy on either end of the floor. Finishing with a playoff-career-high 40 points.

Defensively, Butler struggled through the screen, challenging shots and chasing the Bucks everywhere. On offense, he challenged Milwaukee’s famous tough internal defense, darting into the paint repeatedly to draw a foul. Butler committed nine fouls and earned 13 free throws, an important part of the Heat game plan. Overall, the Heat trailed the Bucks by 11 points from free throws.

The rest of Butler’s teammates ranged from rookie Tyler Harrow to veteran Goran Dracik. His team works on the game plan of driving lanes of Giannis Antetokonampo with defensive energy and loyalty.

In the fourth, it was a torrent of Butler jumpers that slammed the door on a comeback victory. Relying on Butler to make such shots is not the best strategy; He had a relatively poor shooting season. But the Heat know they can count on Butler for every game, and they made attempts outside the paint in the fourth quarter, including their second 3 games of the night in the fourth zone of their game.

The worry of failure has been on Butler’s mind for a long time.

Butler said, “For us, confidence comes in every single day.” “We work so hard, we practice like we want to practice, we study film like we’re about to study film. That’s why we bank every single second of every game. It has no nerves because we are doing it. Believing that we are working to be great, not just good, great. So we have it in our corner. ”

    .