10 Questions With Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler talks about being the underdog, leading the Bulls, living up to Michael Jordan’s legacy and more
1 On playing San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard days before the Christmas Day games
I mean, he's a great player overall, not just defender. He plays both sides of the ball extremely well and I just think that the amount of work that we both put into it in the summer and every single day is the reason our careers have taken off the way that they have. I don't compare myself to anybody else, so like, I have to play well against anybody or anybody else. I just kind of go, every night, I have to do whatever it takes for my team to win. No matter my matchup, as long as we win at the end of the night, it's not who's better than who. It's all about the team winning the game.
2 On playing against a team like the Spurs
Going into San Antonio on Christmas Day is going to be tough to get a win on the road, but I think we're very capable of doing that. You know, we look forward to games like this. We're going in as the underdogs, which we're just fine with and we just want to play the game that we love. We just want to compete and get another win on Christmas Day.
*Spurs won the Christmas Day games by 19 points
3 On how taking part in the Rio Olympics has helped his game
First off, I think the Olympics was a great experience. Just being around so many great guys and looking and watching the way they went about the game, their routines, how hard they worked when they weren't playing in the actual basketball game and just getting to know them on the personal aspect of it, it was huge. It really taught me a lot. And yes, our team is very different this year than last, but I like the group of guys that we have and I'm fine with the role that I'm in now.
4 On being the leader or the man of the team
I think it's a learning curve for me every single day, just like it is for everybody else this year. You know, with [Rajon] Rondo and D. [Dwyane] Wade here—which are the two that everybody, you know, majority talks about—they're teaching me so much each and every day. And then you know, I've still got young guys that I have to try to mold and try to teach them what it takes to get on the level of Dwayne Wade, of Rondo and how to win. I think that's my job.
5 On how the Bulls were able to step up against some of the upper-tiered games and beat them
I don't know. I couldn't tell you the reason on why we win some and lose some. Some games, we come out flat, not ready to play. You know, say what you want to say, but I think it happens at times, man. Sometimes you're not making shots. Things aren't going the way you want it to. You put your head down, feel sorry for yourself.
6 On what’s it like leading the team alongside Dwayne Wade
There's different ways to lead and to go about it. I think with him, he just knows how to win. He knows what it takes to win a championship. He's done it and he's always, you know, in the gym, taking care of his body. So, you know, myself, the young guys we’re paying attention to it because that's how you get to play as many years as he's played and be the type of player that he's been. It's because he's constantly working every single day, even when he's not on the basketball court.
7 On what he’s trying to improve on
To tell you the truth, I don't look at just one thing to improve. I'm not perfect in any aspect of the game as I always say. So I always continue to work on all aspects of my game. I want to be really, really, really good at everything when it comes to being on the basketball court, so the only way to go about that, is continue to work on everything as much and as many chances as you can.
8 On his vastly improved performance
I just work hard. That's all it is. Countless amount of hours and time in a gym, in a weight room. To gain confidence, your confidence comes from your work. My college coach Buzz Williams always told me and taught me that and I just got phenomenal basketball training and Chris Johnson, my strength and weight guy, we constantly put in work, man. So that's where that comes from. My confidence, my talent, the way I've been playing is because every single day, I'm in the gym trying to get better.
9 On playing against Manu Ginobili on his final game, his legacy and career
You know, his career speaks for himself as well. Like Tim Duncan, he'll probably have his jersey retired as well. The way that he plays the game is so smooth and he makes everything look easy. I mean—he does everything so well. Shoot it, attack the rim. He's athletic, he can pass it, and you know, everybody seems to have fun while playing with him. I'd say more than anything, the role he plays is so big in coming off the bench when he knows that he's a starter. But that's not what his team asks from him and he plays that role to a tee. He's a huge part of that success. He's always a big part in the winning.
10 On feeling pressured to win a title or live up to Michael Jordan
It's not really pressuring and I don't think anybody has to say that. I think I want to lead my own legacy. I want to be known for me winning games, not just being in the same organization as Scottie Pippen, as Michael Jordan, as Dennis Rodman, as all those guys. I have my own legacy and story that I'm trying to write. So, yeah, obviously, the goal, the reason you play this game is to win. So obviously, I would like to do that. But I'm not living in the MJ shadow. I'm trying to be the best version of myself that I can be.