When he retires, “King” confessed that he will miss these moments of pure intensity, as he does against Jimmy Butler, whom he considers one of the fiercest competitors in the league.
It’s a little unfamiliar to Jimmy Butler to think that the Heat star was going to sit back, even with two injuries on his back, and let himself be spanked by the Lakers in the NBA finals on the world stage.
“Jimmy Buckets” is one of those leaders who never give up, no matter what the challenge, and tonight’s challenge was just right for him.
The Miami winger delivered the game of his life to kick-start the final, with a 40-point triple-double, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, clutch baskets at the end of the game, and even a little trash-talking to LeBron James to “crown” it all, forcing the “King” to admit defeat on this Game 3.
“I thought Jimmy was phenomenal,” he said after the game. “He did everything his team needed to do tonight and put out a great performance in a very important game. We’re going to go over it on video and try to find a way to do better. But I thought he was great.
Two thirsty for competition
LeBron James has already twice knocked Jimmy Butler (then with the Bulls) out of the title race, in 2013 with Miami (4-1) and in 2015 with Cleveland (4-2), each time in the conference semi-finals. For this third rendezvous between the two playoff players, Jimmy Butler is still not in favor of the predictions but will do his best to complicate LBJ’s task, as he did last night. This will rekindle his thirst for victory.
“This is competition at its best,” said Jimmy Butler. “I think LeBron has gotten the best of me far too many times. I respect him for that, but it’s a different time now. I have another group of guys around me, and we’re here to win, we’re here to fight.
The ultimate competitive flavor, despite the “bubble” environment, an intense duel and NBA final that LeBron James is savoring as he nears the end of his career.
“I love it,” he continued. “He is one of the biggest competitors in our sport. We love to have this kind of opportunity, and for me I don’t know how many times it’s going to come up. So to be able to fight with a fierce competitor like him is something I’ll always remember when I’m done with basketball. I’m going to miss those moments.