One of the best moves in Jimmy Butler's career was to leave the Philadelphia 76ers and sign with the Miami Heat. Butler joined the Heat in 2019 as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers.
Since joining the Heat, Butler has found immense success, becoming a standout player and the leader of the franchise. But not everyone saw his success coming, and one NBA analyst even thought he would never reach the heights of Dwyane Wade with the team.
In 2019, when the reports of a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler were coming out, Stephen A. Smith said it was the wrong move for Jimmy Butler. He noted that the 76ers fans love him, and if he went to Miami, he would not have as much success as the 76ers.
He also added that the Heat fans would not love him as much as Dwyane Wade, Butler's mentor, and former teammate. Max Kellerman quipped back, saying Butler is made for Miami because of Pat Riley, and he will go down as an important figure in the history of the franchise (till 3:22):
Stephen A. Smith: "I think its absolutely the wrong move... He's perfect for Pat Riley because Pat Riley loves that stuff. Any nonsense that exists inside of you, Pat Riley will strip from you the minute you arrive in South Beach. Here's why I don't like the move for Jimmy Butler; you'll never be loved the way you were loved in Philadelphia. It was the perfect set up for him. That town loved themselves a Jimmy Butler kind of guy. Even though they respect Tobias Harris, they would've preffered Jimmy Butler... Then you go to Miami, Miami is not going to better than Philadelphia. They may, maybe not. They're not going to be better than Philadelphia. He's not going to be Dwyane Wade. I understand that Dwyane Wade is no more, he is retired. That's Wade County in Miami. When you're playing that position, there is a standard that has been established that people will hope you meet. He's going to Miami. And you know what Jimmy Butler is gonna be? Just another really, really good basketball player."
Max Kellerman: "Jimmy Butler is going to be an important figure in the history of Miami Heat basketball. Because what Pat Riley does... You know Pat Riley speaks Jimmy Butler's language. He's talking about working, grinding, wanting it more than the other guy. Butler is the perfect Pat Riley player... You're right. He's never going to be Dwyane Wade. But he will be a significant part of that town, that franchise, and the Heat will earn the league's respect each and every night."
It took Jimmy Butler just one season to prove Stephen A. Smith wrong. While Smith was right that Butler would not be as loved as Dwyane Wade in Miami, that did not mean that the fans would not embrace Butler. Butler took the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals in his first season with the Miami Heat, becoming a fan favorite in the process.
And this year, he was their central figure as they secured the first seed in the Eastern Conference, and are currently playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the end, Max Kellerman proved to be right; Jimmy Butler will go down as a significant part of the Miami Heat's basketball history as a franchise.