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Star players are always given a little more latitude from their coaches, but the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler wondered whether things went too far when he and head coach Erik Spoelstra got into an argument during a game in March.
During a timeout in a 118-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors, tensions between Butler and Spoelstra briefly boiled over.
While the involved parties appear to have moved on, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst spoke to a source who said Spoelstra was “exasperated” with Butler. The argument was the culmination of what Windhorst described as a “long buildup.”
Windhorst added that even Butler “wondered whether this was a breaking point.”
Butler’s reputation certainly precedes him.
The 32-year-old has an almost maniacal work ethic, which can be an issue if he perceives his teammates aren’t working as hard as he is. He isn’t afraid to stir the pot, either, most famously challenging Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns while a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I want to run into people and see who falls down first, who is going to quit first,” Butler said, per Windhorst. “I think that’s the style of basketball I like to play.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. Butler worked his way from Tyler Junior College to Marquette and then from a seldom-used role player as a rookie to an All-Star.
But that doesn’t always mean Butler’s approach is the most beneficial for his team. With the Heat, he has at least found an organizational culture that matches his own, and a head coach who knows how to deftly handle any internal strife and quickly turn the page.