Jimmy Butler Continues To Lead As He Works Towards Return

It hasn’t been easy for Jimmy Butler to be stuck on the sidelines while his teammates fight to make the playoffs in a brutal Western Conference.

After suffering a right meniscal injury against Houston on February 23, Butler has been unable to take the court, and he’ll be the first to tell you how difficult it is to be unable to play basketball.

“Four to six weeks without basketball is an eternity for me,” he said. “It’s all I’ve ever done, it’s all anybody in this league has ever done, so when you have to wake up knowing you can’t go out and compete, be with the guys you’ve been with all year long, that’s the toughest part about it.”

Butler’s rehab is progressing. While he doesn’t have a target date for a return, he expects to be back on the court in time for the playoffs. While the Wolves have slipped to 8th place in the conference, Butler isn’t worried about the team making it to the postseason.

“I’m confident when I’m out there on the floor with those guys, and when I’m not I’m still confident,” he said. “I know what they’re capable of, I know how everybody wants to do great things, how they want to see this organization in the playoffs, they’ll do everything in their power to make it happen.”

Conditioning has been a focus for Butler. He’s running on the treadmill now, and spending time on the rowing machine. He’s also been focusing on his upper body and has put on muscle there. Lateral movement and jumping will come next. Butler is committed to completing his rehab, and though he would much rather get his conditioning done on the court, the seven-year veteran understands the importance of taking things one step at a time.

But Butler is making sure that even though his teammates might miss his hard-nosed defense and scoring ability, they won’t be without his leadership.

“Text messaging, phone calls, [if] they don’t message me back I’m sliding into their DMs if I have to. My guys are going to hear from me, because I care, I want to win,” said Butler. “Even though I’m not out there with them, they know that I’m there. Even though I’m doing rehab, I’m here, I watch every game, I pay attention to every single thing.”

He’s even reactivated his Twitter (though after a long period of disuse he had to get his login information from his brother) and utilized it to hilariously praise his young teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.

Butler obviously wishes he hadn’t gotten hurt, but he’s glad that the injury happened when it did—giving him enough time to work towards a return—and that it didn’t end up being something more serious.

“Nate Robinson always said you got to risk it for the biscuit, and that’s what I’m about. I’m not one to sit out if I can play,” he said. “I want to compete, I want to show that I’m one of the better players to do this, I’m here for a reason, I want to help my team win, all that good stuff. But I can’t come back early cause something worse might happen.”

Butler is doing everything he can to return to the court and rejoin the team that means so much to him, but until then?

“Sit down and watch my team compete, smile because I know I’ll be back sooner rather than later.”