Saturday night was a night full of reunions. A duel between two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference ended up with a close Miami Heat 107-104 win over the Chicago Bulls.
While DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry reunited by embracing each other on the court, Jimmy Butler returned to the arena he called home for the first six years of his career. The 30th overall draft pick in 2011 became a known name around the league during his time in Chicago, and faced the Miami Heat several times back then.
Butler disliked the Heat during those years, claiming he'd never wear a Heat jersey. Well, that changed in 2019 when Butler joined the Floridian team via sign-and-trade from the Philadelphia 76ers.
In his return to the Windy City, the veteran swingman was inquired about his old thoughts on the Heat, joking around and saying he just messed with people.
Via The Sun-Sentinel:
It was during his NBA emergence with the Chicago Bulls in 2013 when, in an interview with Chicago Splash, Butler was asked, to fill in the blank of, “The one thing I’d never wear ...”
His answer? “A Miami Heat jersey.”
Now, eight years removed from the comment, and having helped lead the Heat to the 2020 NBA Finals, Butler smiles about it all.
“I knew I was going to end up here way back then,” Butler said of the Heat to the South Florida Sun Sentinel ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Bulls at the United Center.
“So I said it then just so I could make the tabloids think I could predict the future.”
Competitive as he is, Butler doesn't forget his days in Chicago. After living a rough childhood and being overlooked for most of his life, Butler proved doubters wrong, and his performance in Chicago took him to the next level. He added that Chicago was the place when he learned to hate his current team.
“I’ve got so much love for Chicago,” Butler said with another Cheshire grin. “That’s where I first learned to hate the Miami Heat. And then when I left, I learned to love the Miami Heat, and the way that they do things.”
People evolve and Butler isn't the exception. Curiously, his personality is perfect for the Heat culture, and it's hard to imagine him on another team. Jimmy went to the 2020 NBA Finals in his first season with the Heat and is trying to return to the big series this campaign.
They have a good team and are one of the top teams in the East. They already beat a dangerous rival in Chicago, but this won't be the only time we see these two going at it. This is a potential Eastern Conference finals matchup, and a very emotional series if these two face each other in the 2022 playoffs.