Jimmy Butler is an interesting case. Seldom, if ever, does a potential superstar in the NBA, who is not 7 feet or taller, come from such an unassuming background.
Butler just re-signed with the Bulls for five years and $90 million, and we hope he enjoys that cash and continues to play like a man who deserves it.
But tell me this, when he was starting 69 games for Marquette, averaging an unspectacular 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in three seasons, did you ever say,Wow, that’s the guy the Bulls gotta have to counter heroes like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade?
When he was at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, did you notice him at all? Were you thrilled when he was twice named to the honorable mention All Big East Team at Marquette?
Here’s the thing, Butler is a man on an improvement graph that charts geometrically upward. That was no aberration when he was named Marquette’s Most Improved Player after his junior season. Heck, in high school in Tomball, Texas, he was close to a nobody.
Not just a nobody. At age 13 his mother kicked him out of the house and he was homeless. Eventually he was taken in by Michelle Lambert, a white mother of four biological children. Lambert told Sports Illustrated she remembers young Butler as “very quiet” and “deathly shy.”’
Now he’s an All-Star, and in February he made Sports Illustrated’s cover, beside the headline, “The Unlikely Breakout Star: JIMMY BUTLER.’”
So can this unlikeliest of wealthy stars continue his arc upward, or have the trappings of fame changed him? Or will they?
This is the great unknown, and it is the main issue with sudden pop stars, actors who explode on the scene, young finance entrepreneurs who strike gold. Nobody ever would have thought humble Butler and acknowledged Bulls superstar Derrick Rose would have an issue between them. But allegedly this has happened.
One ball, X amount of shots, one spotlight. One team leader.
Working these things out now is more important than talent. It’s on you, Jimmy and D-Rose.