CAMDEN, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers speaks to the media during an introductory press conference at the 76ers Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey on November 13, 2018.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Butler Driven by Desire for Championship

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

All-Star Game appearances? √ √ √ √

All-Defensive Team selections? √ √ √ √

Olympic Gold Medal? √

Jimmy Butler has compiled quite the resume over the course of his eight-year professional career, with all of the above accomplishments actually coming within the last five seasons.

Missing so far from his otherwise heady list of achievements, though, is an NBA title.

Yes, Butler has been on some good teams, but not a great one, at least not yet.

He was part of five playoff runs with the Chicago Bulls, then another one this past spring with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Butler has never fared better than the second round.

At 29 years of age, and very much in his prime, taking home his sport’s ultimate collective prize is at the top of Butler’s to-do list.

“That’s above any and everything, and I think that’s the reason why everyone plays this game, is to win a championship,” Butler said Tuesday, during his introductory press conference at the 76ers Training Complex.

Would MVP honors be nice some day? Of course.

How about a scoring title, or the Defensive Player of the Year award? Totally.

Being on the last team standing in June, hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, and earning a coveted, elusive championship ring, that stuff, to Butler, is on an entirely different level.

“Knowing that for that point in time you’re the best team in the world, that’s special,” said the Houston, Texas native.

With the Sixers, Butler seems to think that attaining such a level of success could one day be possible.

Over the course of Tuesday’s 25-minute media Q-and-A, he expressed excitement about joining a core group of players that enjoyed a breakout 2017-18 campaign.

“Obviously, the potential here with Ben [Simmons], Jo [Joel Embiid], and all the other guys on the roster, I think we can be really, really good when everybody buys into everything. When we get that chemistry and all that good stuff rolling, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

As for his fit with the Sixers, Butler watched Monday’s win over the Miami Heat, and liked how his new squad was able to switch its defensive coverages at just about any given time.

Offensively, given Brett Brown’s stylistic leanings towards a motion scheme that revolves around tempo, passing, screen-setting, handoffs, and post ups, Butler understands he might be in for a change.

During stints with Chicago and Minnesota, the 2011 no. 30 pick had the ball in his hands frequently, and was used extensively in isolation.

“That was just what I was asked to do when I was there,” Butler said. “I think I’m great at sharing the ball, moving without the ball.

“There’s more than one way to get the ball. I think the way these guys play...that’s actually easier than having to create all the time in ISO situations off pick-and-roll.”

On the intangible front, after listening to Butler speak Tuesday in such authentic, honest, humorous, and positive tones, it would be hard to envision him not enriching the culture the Sixers have fostered during the Brown years.

Butler plays hard, has an edge, and is real. In other words, he has qualities that tend to resonate loudly among Delaware Valley sports fans.

We’ll just leave this genuine, passionate, inspiring quote about Philadelphians here:

“I like the fact that they like people who grind, go hard. That’s what I’ve always built my basketball talents off of. I’ll tell you right now, I’m not the most talented guy - I’m not the best shooter, the fastest runner, or the highest jumper. I just think that I just play hard. I’m up early before a lot of people, in the gym, and I’m there later than a lot of people in the gym, just because I want to do whatever it is my team asks me to do to help us win as many games as possible. I really take great pride in knowing that I’m basically in control of my own destiny. I love to work, I love to grind. I’ve always been like that. It doesn’t change now. If anything, I just take it up a notch. I think the city is going to love that about me.”

Sounds as if Butler already knows his audience pretty well.

Throw in the fact that he’s starved for a championship banner, and badly wants to help the Sixers win on, there’s just that much more to like.

“All I ever wanted to do is win, at any and every level. I have a new opportunity to do that here, and that’s the goal. That will always be the goal.”

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