The Toxicity of Jimmy Butler

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

Here we go again.


In what seems like a reoccurring story, 76ers' star Jimmy Butler made headlines this week after an “altercation” with coach Brett Brown in a recent film session.

76ers' head coach Brett Brown and Jimmy Butler (via Associated Press)

ESPN writers Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne broke the story: “Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler has aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on the All-Star’s role in the 76ers offense, complicating already-tenuous chemistry among the team’s Big Three hierarchy.”


The media questioned Butler’s teammate, JJ Redick, about the reported event.


“This is the NBA, this is fairly normal,” said JJ Redick.

76ers' shooting guard JJ Redick (Via NBC Sports)

Redick is a veteran of the NBA having played 14 years in the Association. He’s been around multiple locker rooms and is familiar with the dynamics between players and coaches. These type of player-coach heated discussions happen often throughout the league. The problem is, there is a narrative, and Butler continues to add fuel to it.


Over the last few years, there have been consistent stories of Butler being disrespectful and contentious with teammates, coaches and owners alike.


Butler was traded from Chicago to Minnesota after not seeing eye-to-eye with head coach Fred Hoiberg. It was a rocky ending between Butler and the Bulls, as management no longer saw Butler as someone to build around. On draft night 2017, Chicago decided to rebuild, dealing him to the Timberwolves.


During his short, year and a half tenure as a member of the Timberwolves, things seemed to get even more out of hand. Butler was frustrated with the culture and head coach Tom Thibodeau. There was a lack of offensive chemistry, discipline and winning mentality in the locker room. Butler specifically took jabs at the team’s younger stars, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Soon after, he turned his anger towards ownership after they were not willing to offer him a maximum contract.


One trade request later and he was shipped to Philadelphia.


It is highly unusual for an All-Star caliber player to be traded in consecutive seasons. That is unless that player was a major detriment to the team off the court.


Two months into the new relationship and it is reported that Butler has been “‘disrespectful’ and beyond normal player-coach discourse.”


Not a good start-in fact, this feels like deja vu. Butler is traded to a team with two young stars (replace Wiggins and Towns for Simmons and Embiid), is confrontational with the coach and is not satisfied with his role on offense.

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler (via Sports Illustrated)

Now, there are reports claiming the 76ers have been receiving calls from teams inquiring Butler’s availability. Aware of Butler's actions, Teams around the league know how this is going to end.


There is one common denominator in all of Butler’s turbulent team situations: Jimmy Butler.


He can try to justify his behavior however he wants to. Is he just a frustrated All-Star who wants to win? Is he a good teammate like he claims to be? He can believe that about himself. However, it does not match the narrative.


The narrative of Butler’s toxicity remains alive and well, and thus far, he does not seem too keen on killing it.


*preview photo credited to Complex


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