“You (obscenity) need me!” NBA all-star Jimmy Butler said to the Timberwolves general manager, Scott Layden, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Oct. 11.
“You can’t win without me!”
What was the reasoning behind Jimmy Butler’s tirade during practice? Why does this sound exactly like a scene from the movie “Gladiator”?
Here is some backstory.
Going into last year’s NBA season, newly acquired star, Jimmy Butler, was poised to make a run for the playoffs with a roster that sounded amazing on paper. Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins were looking primed to make it into the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, something that their young, talented core had failed to do since their conception.
Under the laboring coaching style of Tom Thibodeau, the Minnesota Timberwolves would narrowly make their way into the 2018 NBA Playoffs, where they would be knocked off by the juggernaut Houston Rockets.
Objectively, this would not be so bad seeing how this was their first stint in the playoffs. However, locker room issues plagued the Timberwolves all season; Butler would even opt to not fly back to Minnesota with his own team following their elimination. Factoring in Coach Thibodeau working his core players to the bone every game, Jimmy Butler’s military-like, workhorse attitude and rumors surrounding whether Towns and Wiggins were mentally fit to win a championship, Jimmy Butler would end up demanding a trade around the end of the 2018 NBA offseason.
It was official. “Jimmy Buckets” wanted nothing more to do with Minnesota, Thibodeau’s exhaustive coaching style and Wiggins’ and Towns’ “nonchalant attitudes,” as quoted by Butler in a Chicago Sun-Times report this past summer.
To add insult to injury, Butler’s co-star Karl-Anthony Towns agreed to a $190 million super-max contract just days after Butler requested a trade out of Minnesota. However, over the course of the remainder of the offseason, trade-talks would stagnate as head coach Thibodeau would not express interest in trading Butler.
The plot thickened even further when the brother of Andrew Wiggins (Butler’s other co-star) tweeted “Hallelujah,” as a quoted response to reporter Shams Charania’s tweet, which broke the news of Jimmy Butler’s trade request.
Andrew Wiggins' brother seems happy about Jimmy Butler asking for a trade
(He's since deleted the tweet) pic.twitter.com/uhphkaeKYr
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 19, 2018
Butler fired back on Instagram with a “hallelujah” of his own.
Jimmy hit 'em with that ??
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) September 20, 2018
All of these shenanigans led up to the glorious day where Jimmy Butler returned to practice with his team on Oct. 11.
During this practice, Butler played alongside third-string benchwarmers in a scrimmage against the starters, featuring Towns and Wiggins.
Butler and his benchwarmer henchmen absolutely destroyed Towns and Wiggins during this scrimmage.
This led to Butler storming off the court and yelling the infamous, aforementioned words to his GM, Scott Layden.
Following this outburst, Butler attended a press conference with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, where he explained the reasoning behind his tirade. However, it is worth noting that Butler ensured Rachel Nichols was in town for the aforementioned interview because Nichols tweeted that Butler called her the night before, scheduling the interview.
Got the call last night that @JimmyButler was ready to talk. Jumped on a plane this morning, and wow – turns out he certainly was. We’ll have lots more on @SportsCenter tonight and then you know we’ll have evvvvvvvverything on #TheJump at 3p ET tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/C89gpLdTUa
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 10, 2018
Was this a calculated publicity move by Jimmy Butler?
Some would say that Jimmy Butler artfully orchestrated all of this as a ploy to fully separate himself from the Timberwolves. Some say that Butler did this in order to make himself look more attractive to potential trade suitors, as Butler would play the part of a hungry player lusting for victory. Some even say that Jimmy Butler is not even getting traded to begin with.
Only time will tell.
Only time will tell whether Jimmy Butler will stay and run the Timberwolves’ organization into the ground.
Only time will tell if he can whip Towns and Wiggins into winning shape.
Only time will tell if he packs his bags and heads to the likes of Houston or Miami.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, at this point, are a soap opera, and you can count on there being another episode.