Coach Tom Thibodeau Admits He Didn’t Think Jimmy Butler Was a Superstar At Chicago

Published 02/08/2021, 2:30 PM EST
Feb 5, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) protects the ball from Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (8) during the second quarter of the game at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat had a dream run in the 2020 Playoffs. They cruised to the NBA Finals, but unfortunately, they fell short by two games against the Lakers. That playoff run highlighted the brilliance of Jimmy Butler and his importance to the team.


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Butler started his journey in the NBA with the Bulls with Tom Thibodeau at the helm. Thibodeau was Butler’s first coach in the NBA and was there for the first four seasons Butler spent in Chicago.

He saw Butler developing through the years but didn’t feel like he would turn out to be a superstar.


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During a recent interview, he said, “To say we saw him as a superstar, we didn’t see that.”

But later he admitted Butler is currently “one of the elite players in the league.”

Jan 31, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau coaches against the LA Clippers during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler and his journey in the NBA

Butler’s journey to reach the NBA is inspirational. After going through a tough childhood, he enrolled in a community college to play basketball. After impressing in his first season, he made a transfer to Marquette. He stayed for three seasons, developing into a solid two-way player.

After he declared, Thibodeau’s Bulls drafted him with their 30th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. In his first two seasons, he played off the bench, before cementing a starting place in his third season.

In his next three seasons, he made the All-Star game every time, but was eventually shipped off because the Bulls project was going nowhere.

It was Thibodeau who anchored a trade to get him to the Timberwolves, but he was fired midway through the season. Butler asked to leave next season, and he got his move to play for a contender in Philadelphia.

They had a decent playoff run where Butler was crucial but they decided to not bring him back.

This brought him to Miami, where he is now starting a new legacy. He has finally found a home, where not just the players, but also the coaching staff are fond of him and respect his work ethic.


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They have had a slow start this season, but one would expect them to be a in a better position at the end of the season.


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Jan 30, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) looks to pass as Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) defends on the play in the fourth quarter at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports



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Aaron Mathew

1631 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.