Diary of a Butler: The story of Jimmy Butler’s unlikely NBA career

Miami Heat Jimmy Butler (Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports)
Miami Heat Jimmy Butler (Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports) /
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There are few NBA players who have had a life and career worthy of the silver screen quite like Jimmy Butler.

From being homeless as a youth to potentially becoming an NBA champion in the year 2023, it has been quite the rollercoaster for Miami’s beloved butler. The story writes itself. Yet the path to stardom was never guaranteed for Jimmy Butler, nor was being widely adored. In his 13-year career, ‘The Butler’ has worn four different uniforms that have seen him defined in four very different ways.

Jimmy Butler was drafted with the 30th overall pack in 2011 by the Chicago Bulls to no fanfare. In his rookie season, which also incidentally was a lockout season, Jimmy Butler played minimal minutes in 42 games of the season. His impact barely registered, at least on the stat sheet. As his tenure in Chicago continued, Jimmy became more and more integral to the team, particularly on the defensive end.

By the time his third year in the league came to an end, Jimmy Butler was a starter for the Chicago Bulls, an All-NBA defender that also averaged over 13 points a game. Neither Butler nor the Bulls were anything special at this time, but they were perfectly serviceable. This was exactly what most fans and analysts expected of Jimmy; if they expected anything at all from the 30th overall pick. But this would not be the butler’s ceiling. Far from it.

Jimmy would continue to develop into a better player in all facets throughout the rest of his tenure in Chicago, and the league would start to take noticeFar from the defense-only roleplayer he had come into the league as, Butler would earn the first of many nicknames that would be bestowed upon him in his career: ‘Jimmy Buckets.’

He would lead the Bulls valiantly both in the regular and post-seasons. The young Butler would serve up game-winners and memorable moments aplenty, including going toe to toe with the King himself, LeBron James in the 2015 NBA playoffs. While the Bulls would ultimately see their playoff run come to an end that year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Chicago seemed to be blossoming into a true championship contender.

With a roster that would become home to respected veterans like Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, alongside the emergence of young players like Jimmy Butler, expectations would only rise for Chicago.

But then the waters would start to muddy.

Prior to the beginning of 2016-17, rumors of the young Butler butting heads with other players on the team began to make the rounds. The reports alleged that Jimmy was getting into altercations with Joakim Noah, in addition to him not approving of Derrick Rose’s work ethic as per Bleacher Report. During the season itself, Jimmy Butler would find himself embroiled in further controversies, including openly criticizing Fred Hoiberg, their head coach at the time, as well as the work ethic of his other teammates.

It was at this time that the goodwill Butler had built up began to sour, and he soon had a new nickname bestowed upon him. This one however was not nearly as enjoyable as ‘Jimmy Buckets,’ and would follow him after he eventually departed from the Chicago Bulls.

“Locker room cancer.”