PHOENIX – “Beats’’ headphones firmly planted on the ears.
The Nike Jumpman logo all over his clothing.
Justin Bierber’s new album “Purpose’’ on the IPhone.
“Justin Bieber? Really?’’ Jimmy Butler is asked.
“You heard this album?’’ Butler responds, defending his music of choice. “This album’s great … I don’t care.’’
Then it’s pointed out to Butler that maybe he can be on a Bieber reality show someday, following the same path he blazed in becoming friends with actor Mark Wahlberg and eventually showing up on his reality show “Wahlburgers.’’
“Hey,’’ Butler said with a straight face. “You never know.’’
Forget Butler going Hollywood. Been there, done that. The fifth-year former first-round pick is trying to create his own rise to fame, both on and off the basketball court, and his teammates love him for it.
“Oh yeah, he likes the spotlight,’’ Bulls big man Taj Gibson said Thursday. “He’s from the country, he’s not used to city life and all that. He changed a little bit, but when it gets down to it he’s still the same, the old Jimmy Butler. But no doubt we see flashes. The gold chains, the lights, the cars, that’s what happens.’’
In Butler’s case that’s what happens when you come from small-town Tomball, Texas, get overlooked until the 30th pick by the Bulls, work your tail off to become an All-Star, and then get rewarded with a five-year, $95-million contract last summer.
Along the way, become friends with Wahlberg, take on Michael Jordan in a shooting contest, play horse with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Erin Heatherton, and have your boom box-shaped fish aquarium featured on the reality show “Tanked.’’
Even Butler can’t keep a straight face in pretending he’s still the “same ol’ country boy from Tomball.’’
Bulls second-year forward Doug McDermott found that out this summer, after Butler invited McDermott out to San Diego to go through his rigorous daily workouts which begin at 5 a.m., but one day having to take a break so that Butler could do a magazine photoshoot.
“Yeah, he likes the Hollywood,’’ McDermott said with a laugh. “He might be bumping country music, but he’s in front of the lights with his chains on. I would say that the humble kid from Texas is a little different now.
“That’s why I say he deserves the Hollywood stuff, he deserves everything. I mean [Thursday] morning he came to the gym before all of us. He can be in front of the lights and all that, but as long as he’s coming to work and always giving us advice, first one in the gym and last one out, we’re all going to follow his lead. You follow a guy like that.’’
And they have. In the win over the Suns Wednesday night, they not only followed, but rode him, as Butler scored 14 of 32 points in the fourth quarter, refusing to come out of the game and playing 43 minutes.
Now the Bulls head to the Bay Area and taking on Golden State’s lethal backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
With Derrick Rose doing very little on Thursday and doubtful to play, Butler has already informed coach Fred Hoiberg that he wants an opportunity to get time guarding each of the Warrior All-Stars, and Hoiberg plans on giving him that chance.
“I think Jimmy loves the challenge,’’ Hoiberg said. “He always wants to be matched up with the other team’s best player and he wants the ball in his hands late.’’
In other words, the spotlight will be back on. Butler wouldn’t want it any other way.