The Jimmy Butler Story: Why The Sixers Conflict Will All Be For Good

The Jimmy Butler Story: Why The Sixers Conflict Will All Be For Good

A team that has persisted and grown in the face of adversity, like the Sixers, can certainly withstand some drama of this small magnitude


The trade for Jimmy Butler to my Philadelphia 76ers was one that cemented the status of the Sixers as an established team with three superstars. While I was dismayed that we gave up core pieces of "The Process" in Robert Covington and Dario Saric, Butler adds an undeniable mental and athletic edge to the young and growing team, especially with Markelle Fultz's mysterious shoulder injury.

Finally, we have three players with star credentials in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Jimmy Butler. But naturally, with all-star talent comes all-star level egos, and Jimmy Butler recently made headlines where he allegedly "aggressively challenged" Coach Brett Brown during a team film session about his role in the offense, where some who witnessed the confrontation called it "disrespectful."

Already, about two months after trading for Butler, alarm bells have been ringing off in the minds of analysts and critics of the team. This was why he was traded from the Timberwolves, they said. This is why Jimmy Butler is a "locker room cancer."

But let's take a step back and look at the story of Jimmy Butler and how he came to be the star of Jimmy Butler we know today, in one of the stories of transcendent ascendance we have rarely seen in the NBA.

Jimmy Butler was once homeless in Tomball, Texas, a town outside of Houston as a teenager. His father abandoned the family as an infant, and his mother kicked him out of the house at 13, telling him "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go." With no means of surviving on his own, Butler survived by staying with families of different friends. Every couple of weeks, Butler had to move to another family's home.

His senior year of high school, he moved in with the family of his best friend, Jordan Leslie (now in the NFL). Leslie's mother, Michelle Lambert, was initially reluctant to take him in: Butler didn't have the best reputation in Tomball, and the family struggled with finances having to take care of seven kids. But they took him in under the condition that he was a good role model for the younger kids in Lambert's family. She would be a guiding force for the entirety of Butler's life.

"That's my family. That's Michelle Lambert. She is my mom," Butler said of her.

His story is often equated to the basketball version of The Blind Side, a movie about the life of Michael Oher, an NFL offensive tackle. The biographical movie features Oher's homelessness as well, his adoption by the Tuohy family, and subsequently becoming a first-round draft pick in the NFL.

But although Jimmy Butler graduated high school a talented basketball player, he didn't play in the AAU. He went to a Tyler Junior college before transferring to Marquette on scholarship. He received offers from many elite basketball programs, like Clemson, Kentucky, and Marquette, but ultimately, Lambert persuaded him to go to Marquette.

"That's a great academic school. I told him he should go [to Marquette] because basketball may not work out long-term. He needed a good education and a degree to fall back on."

At Marquette, Coach Buzz Williams stated that he'd never been harder on any player as much as he was on Butler. According to Williams, "I was ruthless on him because he didn't know how good he could be. He'd been told his whole life he wasn't good enough." He eventually became an elite college player who could seemingly do everything on the court: rebound, defend every position and lead the team.

Despite his adverse circumstances, Butler did not succeed because of the pity other people had for him, but rather from courage. When Butler was going through the draft combine in 2011 he urged Chad Ford of ESPN to not take an interpretation of his life story that made people feel sorry for him.

"I hate that. There's nothing to feel sorry about. I love what happened to me. It made me who I am. I'm grateful for the challenges I've faced. Please, don't make them feel sorry for me"

The unfavorable circumstances were turned into positives for Butler. Because of what he's overcome, he believes and inspires others to believe that they can overcome everything. I'm inspired by Butler's story in the mere writing of this article, and more so too by his career. This is a man who went from averaging 2.6 points per game his rookie year to becoming a four-time all-star, four-time all-defensive player. Butler's individual work ethic, determination, and drive are the best of the NBA. I believe it is true that he himself can do anything.

But can he will other people to do so? Is his intense style too headstrong for the players and coaches around him? It certainly was in Minnesota. But the media is also certainly reading too much into a small conflict and blowing it up. The Sixers have obviously been through their own share of adversity through the Process, evident in 10 and 18 win seasons. A team that has persisted and grown in the face of adversity, like the Sixers, can certainly withstand some drama of this small magnitude, and the expectation that a team clicks within two months of having its pieces together was unrealistic in the first place. If there's any coach I trust to get these pieces together, it's Brett Brown.

Since Jimmy Butler joined the team, the team has gone 16-5. He is clearly helping the team win, and I have complete faith that Butler and the Sixers will be fine, and that any growing pains the team goes through will all be for good.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.

I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time

Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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An 'Expert's' Thoughts On The Worst Loss Of The Saban Era

Dabo Swinney solidifies Clemson as an elite college football program.


Monday night, the Clemson Tigers were crowned national champions in one of the all-time beatdowns in the history of college football. Some may think that phrase is a bit harsh, but I can't show my bias in this situation. In fact, there is no real way to spin the game into something positive. Sure the referees missed a couple pass interference calls, you can even take away both of Tua's interceptions, I still think Alabama loses that game by 17-plus. That's how big the gap was between the two schools.

The first quarter of the game seemed to be typical championship shootout. Clemson forced an early pick-six but Alabama came right back with a 62-yard touchdown by Jerry Jeudy. The tide was actually leading 16-14 at the start of the second. Then it all went wrong from there. Clemson proceeded to move the ball all the way down the field for a dominating 65-yard drive which only lasted 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Next drive Tua throws an awful interception which is returned for over 40 yards giving Clemson the short field again. Three and a half minutes later it's 28-16. Clemson closes out the half with a field goal and now it's 31-16.

Everyone's mindset at this point was "Alabama and Nick Saban have a pretty good track record of having second-half comebacks." And with the first drive of the second half, it seemed as if they were starting to get their stuff together. Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs lead the offense down to the Clemson 22 before an incomplete pass on third and six made Saban trot out the field goal unit. Sure a field goal in this situation wasn't ideal but it would have made it a 12 point game and given the defense some momentum. Instead, but occurred was the worst decision a Saban lead team had ever made. A fake field goal, up the middle with the kicker as the lead blocker. And Clemson was ready for it.

WOW! Botched fake field goal ( college championship game ) YouTube

It was at this moment even though I didn't want to say it when I knew we had lost the game. It was a panic move by Saban at a time where the team just needed some sort of points. I understand that our kicker has struggled but if you want to go for it on fourth and six don't do a fake field goal, just keep the offense out there. I even disapprove of that.

Trevor Lawrence and the offense now back on the field was able to score in three plays which included a 74-yard touchdown pass to Justin Ross who lit up the secondary all night long. When it was all said and done the Tigers won 44-16, scoring 30 unanswered points to close out the game.

I sat up all night trying to fathom how this could have happened. It bothered me so much that I actually started rewatching the game (thanks Youtube). Yep, I relived every painful moment secluded in my room, cautiously evaluating every meaningful snap of the game. I was also simultaneously looking at the statistics of the game and when I brought it all together I figured out Dabo's formula to beat us. It was having elite receivers who can win every 50-50 ball, it was a defensive front which can make the quarterback uncomfortable, it was a secondary who can force multiple turnovers, it was a coaching staff that hasn't lost a coordinator in seven years, it was an offensive line which can keep the quarterback from getting touched at all (this is actually true). The short answer to all of this is that Dabo Swinney and Clemson was able to beat Nick Saban and Alabama by becoming them.

Think about it. Everything I just listed above is what the tide has been doing for the past 12 years. Other teams have been trying to replicate it for years but to no success. Now someone has finally figured it out until now.

Now I'm not here to say that the Saban dynasty is all over. When looking at all of the great dynasty's in sports every single one had a rival to tie it too. Michael Jordan's Bulls had the Detroit Pistons, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had the New York Giants, LeBron James had the San Antonio Spurs. When you really look at Saban's era he really hasn't had a true rival who consistently got in his way of winning a championship until Monday. Clemson is the first real threat Alabama has had in over a decade.

Swinney and the Tigers kicked our behinds, there's no defending that. It was awful. But it could be the wake-up call Saban's team needs. They aren't just going to run through the entire league anymore. The rest of the country is catching up and Alabama needs to play like they haven't won in a decade.

This was the fourth time these two teams have met in four years. And contrary to some outlets who don't like to tell the whole story, Alabam and Clemson are now 2-2 in their College Football Playoff series. And I have a feeling the 2019-20 season will hold the tiebreaker.

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