Chicago Bulls news: Jimmy Butler’s ego reaches unprecedented level


After the Chicago Bulls meaningless 121-116 win against the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night, Bulls guard Jimmy Butler achieved new levels of vanity with his postgame comments.

Butler said the following when reporters asked him why he returned for the last six minutes of a meaningless game without playoff implications.

"Nobody can make me do anything,” he said. “I’m a grown man, first and foremost. I wanted to play. That’s that. [Hoiberg] came and talked to me, and he knew how to talk to me. He said, ‘Hey, you may have to run point guard.’ Oh, it’s a wrap. I’m playing now. He knew what to say to make me really, really want to play. But I was going to play anyways.—-Quote obtained by Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Joe Cowley"

Butler also shared his thoughts about the difficulty of playing the point guard position. His comments can easily be interpreted as a knock on point guard Derrick Rose who has underwhelmed since becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history in 2011.

Quotes like this have become the norm from Butler. His rapid rise to stardom over the last two seasons has coincided with his attempt to aggressively grab hold of the leadership role on this team. While many of the younger players have embraced Butler as the leader, several veterans have been less than pleased with his behavior.

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ESPN writer Nick Friedell explained why Butler’s behavior created tension in the Chicago Bulls locker room.

"Because you can’t just say, “I signed this new deal. I’m the leader.” That respect has to be earned over time. Nobody is questioning Jimmy’s work ethic. He’s worked his tail off. But they are questioning whether Jimmy can be the leader that this group needs with so much turmoil going on around them."

"You talk to anybody within that Bulls organization, and they’ll tell you that Jimmy has changed. His personality has changed.And it’s not to say he’s wrong in that.But this was a kid that loved saying he was from Tomball, Texas and that he was just a role player on a really good team. And now he wants all the trappings that come with being a star in the league.And that’s all well and good.But again, this ties back into the leadership problem this team has. You can say all that, but you can’t just say, “Alright, I’m the leader.” You have to earn that respect over time. Maybe Jimmy will."

"He’s really rubbed some people the wrong way with how he’s going about things. So, it’s something to watch for, and it’s something that I know is on the minds of the front office in that, “Can we trust this guy to go out and to be who we need him to be every night, and can he lead us the way that a championship-caliber team needs to be led?” And early on, the returns have been no.—-Content originally appeared on the ‘Posting Up Podcast with Tim Bontemps"

Butler’s forceful attempt to become the leader on this team has isolated his teammates and created a serious fracture within the Chicago Bulls locker room. A recent incident amplified this problem. According to ESPN writer Chris Broussard, Butler flew separately from his teammates before the game against the Pelicans. This move didn’t sit well with some of his teammates. 

"Some players, and I’m not saying it wasn’t a family commitment, but there were some – I know at least one player in particular, a starter – who felt like he was a bit bothered by the fact that Jimmy wasn’t on the plane. And it was a misperception. He felt it was emblematic of a little bit of the preferential treatment that a lot of people say Butler’s been getting now that he’s emerged as the best players on the Bulls from the front office and things like that.There’s a division. There’s all types of dysfunction in Chicago. There’s kind of a division in that locker room.The younger players see Butler as the leader. He’s clearly been their best player the last two years. They see him as the leader.The other guys, the veterans who’ve been there, it’s not so much of disrespect of Jimmy, but they don’t see him as the team as the team leader. They remember when you were averaging two points a game.—-Content created by Chris Broussard"

Butler’s forceful attempt to assert himself in the leadership role on this team has failed because the fifth-year guard didn’t establish meaningful connections with his teammates based on mutual respect. You can’t go around beating your own chest and expect other players to follow you. Without a real leader, the locker room dynamic, and ultimately the on-court product, crumbled.

Apr 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) handles the ball under the guard of New Orleans Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham (44) during the first quarter of the game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) handles the ball under the guard of New Orleans Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham (44) during the first quarter of the game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports /

There are two ways to handle this predicament.

  1. Butler needs to bring his ego down a notch next season to avoid isolating his teammates and creating a divide within the Bulls locker room again. This would manifest both in his relationship with his teammates and how he plays. During the 2015-2016 season, he hurt the Bulls offense with his frequent isolation plays and his reliance on mid-range jumpers. He needs to play less selfishly if the Bulls don’t want a repeat of the 2015-2016 season.
  2. If Butler refuses to change, the Bulls can’t afford to keep him around. The Jimmy Butler-led Bulls were a massive fail, and Butler deserves more of the blame than just about anybody else. But, the good news for the Bulls is he has high trade value as one of the premier two-way players in the NBA. The Bulls should highly consider trading him this summer to get rid of this toxic element within its organization.

The sense of togetherness, which was part of the reason the Bulls had been so successful for the better part of the last decade, is gone largely because of Butler’s ego. Players don’t play hard for teammates they don’t like. Butler has destroyed the culture in the Bulls locker room and its seems improbable that it will improve if Butler stays in Chicago.

Next: Chicago Bulls: What went wrong?

What happened to the humble and quiet Jimmy Butler? Can we go back in time and bring this version of the player back?