There’s no pushback for Jimmy Butler this season.
His work ethic is now everyone’s work ethic.
Not the case in previous years, and definitely not the case with all the dysfunction going on last season, both on and off the court.
But there was Butler after Tuesday’s practice, proudly pointing out all the teammates still in the gym, getting up shots or having a three-point contest.
“Yeah, I think of it like this: I don’t see what else you have to do all day. I don’t,’’ Butler said. “Like the job that we have it’s incredibly lenient. Like, you practice for an hour and a half, what do you do the rest of your day? Why don’t you come in here, work on your game? Shoot? Watch some film? All you’re going to do is sit at home and play some video games on your phone anyways.
“But these guys are buying into that, which is great. And when you fall in love with the process you find out that your confidence only comes from the work anyways.’’
That’s all Butler wanted from last season’s team. He wanted the veteran players to buy in, and if that meant following his lead – like it or not – so be it. The not won.
Then came frustration and finger pointing.
That is all gone. Like Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are both workers. So while last year’s team started to fade after Jan. 7, Butler’s feeling is this year’s version of the Bulls will be immune to that type of nose dive.
“I know what I think we’re going to continue to do,’’ Butler said. “I think we’re going to continue to win games. We’re practicing extremely well right now, and the saying goes that if you’re practicing the way you play and all that good stuff, if we do that then I think we we’re going to win.’’
December will test that, especially this first week. Yes, the Circus Trip is behind the Bulls, but they welcome the Lakers in Wednesday night, before kicking off four games in five nights, including hosting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
What Butler, along with Wade and Rondo, are banking on is the team chemistry that has been built so far carries weight.
“As much as you see guys around each other, you’d think we live in a dorm together,’’ Butler said, when asked about a college atmosphere surrounding this team. “We all leave the building at the same time, we all eat together or are at somebody else’s house. You would think, good or bad, that we are a college team. We’re always talking in a group chat or competing, something about this group of guys, we always wanna be around each other.
“We realize we’re all we have when we step out into the United Center floor or an away game. It’s us. These coaches, this organization.’’
Which are words that look nice on T-shirts, but Butler also knows that wins need to be produced.
So far, so good in that department, as the Bulls will enter the final game of November 10-6. The Bulls were coincidentally 11-5 through their first 16 games last season, as well as 22-12 through Jan. 7.
As the chemistry wilted, however, so did the winning.
“I told y’all that all last year,’’ Butler said. “It’s all fine and dandy when you’re winning. You lose a couple games, it seems everything goes to [bleep].’’
NOTE: According to coach Fred Hoiberg, Doug McDermott (concussion) is still not taking contact, and his timetable for that next stage is still day-to-day.