Being the villain worked for the Miami Heat once, can it again?
The Miami Heat took care of another road win Wednesday at Indiana 122-108, but the storyline was not the result.
Instead the focus was on a battle (one-sided) between Jimmy Butler and Indiana’s T.J. Warren.
— Danny Jaillet (@DJaillet95) January 9, 2020
Butler goaded Warren into an ejection after an offensive foul on Butler drew taunting applause from the Indiana forward.
The two were going at it all game and the physicality finally reached a boiling point.
Perhaps Warren did not realize that Butler is probably only the third baddest you-know-what on the Heat.
-TJ Warren fouls Jimmy Butler. Butler REALLY doesn’t like it.
-Butler keeps yelling “I’m tough.”
-Warren invites him to continue the discussion outside.
-Later, Warren is ejected and Butler blows him a kiss 🤣 pic.twitter.com/tAJwVTRL84
— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) January 9, 2020
Butler’s teammates have quickly rallied behind their leader, while social media has been in a frenzy about it.
Meanwhile some, let’s say, old school basketball minds think Butler was in the wrong.
A bad example for the young fans of the National Basketball Association.
Totally classless response from a talented star of @MiamiHEAT Butler doesn’t get it as so many kids watching @NBA & his every move / man take some lessons from @KingJames @AntDavis23 @StephenCurry30 etc
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 9, 2020
The league office took notice as well.
Jimmy Butler has been fined $35,000 for engaging in an altercation and escalating the incident on social media postgame. TJ Warren fined $25,000. Guess the NBA decided they weren’t in the same f—g league.
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) January 10, 2020
Perhaps you receive less punishment if you forget the whole thing ever happened.
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCP) January 10, 2020
Fans of teams from Butler’s past (cough…Philly) have continued to perpetuate the false narrative that Butler is a bad teammate.
A problematic malcontent.
Except he isn’t.
Erik Spoelstra’s response to my question about Jimmy Butler’s shooting… which veered into 2K pic.twitter.com/O84fbHwNKJ
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) January 3, 2020
The thoughts of those outside the Heat organization typically hold little to no influence on those inside.
Yet the us-against-the-world mentality has not exactly been a burden either.
When Lebron James and Chris Bosh joined the Heat in 2010 after the infamous “Decision”, it manifested into a polarizing era.
The ceremony with proclamations of multiple championships drew the ire of many.
ESPN’s “Heat Index” consumed every ounce of Heat Culture during the Big 3 Era, and rightfully so.
That Heat team was not a lovable champion to a lot of NBA observers outside of Heat Nation.
Instead a juggernaut formed with a singular end goal, that was ultimately achieved twice.
The venom fueled Lebron to get his first two championship rings.
So why can’t it do the same for Jimmy Butler?
This Heat squad is a much different team, a group already ahead of schedule.
The early success this season has drawn a lot of positive praise nationally.
While Butler has been under the microscope for his shooting, despite his team’s success.
Butler fits the Heat model to the tee, a selfless general with only one goal.
His actions in Indiana were savvy and galvanizing to his team.
But he didn’t make any friends in the Hoosier State.
“He’s not even in my f—ing league. … I would never put him on me. … Put somebody else on me, ’cause I’m gonna tear his ass up every time we play.”
Jimmy Butler went off on TJ Warren. pic.twitter.com/SMmRVgUx9z
— ESPN (@espn) January 9, 2020
They can take a number behind those in Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Chicago.
Because Jimmy Butler and the Heat don’t care.
Get ready for more contentious nights on the hardwood before this season is complete.
Just how we like it.