Bulls

Chicago’s Love for Jimmy Butler Endures

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Butler Joins Talented Bulls Franchise

Bulls commentator Stacey King coined several iconic nicknames. “Windy City Assassin” for Derrick Rose, “Lieutenant Deng” for Luol Deng, and “Flight 8” for Zach LaVine. However, the most famous one is for the current Miami Heat superstar, Jimmy G. Buckets. (The G is for Gets.)

As the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Jimmy joined the 62-win Chicago Bulls. Chicago featured defending MVP Rose, reigning Coach of the year Tom Thibodeau, all-star level talents in Deng and Joakim Noah, and former all-stars Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton. The Bulls took pride in defense and intensity, tendencies that Butler forged with the then-excellent franchise. 

Chicago brought championship aspirations in a rugged Eastern Conference. They fought the big three versions of the Heat and Celtics and the Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire’s New York Knicks. Jimmy blossomed throughout the next several seasons. As Rose’s injuries ravaged the Bulls and their city, Deng and Noah started to diminish. As the team began to lose early playoff rounds, the brass considered rebuilding. However, Butler’s indomitable will and his developing knowledge gave Bulls fans a new star to admire.

In the 2014-15 season, The Bulls signed an older Pau Gasol, and Rose played with injuries. However, Jimmy Butler became Jimmy Buckets.  The campaign was his first 20 PPG season, all-star appearance, and status as a featured star.

Structure Crumbles

As they fell to the Cavs, the Bull’s structure crumbled, leading to Butler’s exit. Chicago quickly fired Thibodeau, replacing him with Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg’s strategies didn’t work with Butler, and the coach didn’t command the same respect as Thibs. The first season under Hoiberg, the Bulls missed the playoffs. The Bulls traded Rose to New York that offseason, Noah left, and Gasol moved on. Chicago officially handed Butler authority; however, the front office complicated matters with the signings of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo

The three alphas season was eventful. For a head coach who wanted to space the floor, a core-five of Wade, Rondo, Butler, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez was not ideal. Along with young players in Bobby Portis, Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine, this was a season of inconsistencies, infighting, fines and benchings. The team still took two games against the #1 seed Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, a Rondo injury ended the season and Butler’s time in Chicago. 

Three years later, the Bulls start a new era with a new front office. Though there’s excitement about the current period, it’s tempting to think about the what-ifs, especially when the thought is dropping 35+ point triple-doubles in the NBA finals. 

Proud Relationship

While Jimmy demonstrates why he is a championship player, “superstar” or not, Chicago fans look proudly onto someone who represents so much of them and that last great Bulls team: hardworking, gritty, blue-collar, resilient.

They also observe someone who’s given back to the community in incalculable ways. These good works include talking to youth on the southside to discuss ways to improve the area and providing dinners to homeless men and women at Pacific Garden Mission for much of the 2016-17 season. He stated, “Spending time with these kids is as impactful for me as it is for them. Hearing their stories and learning about what they go through motivates me to do even more for Chicago. Their desire to change the world is inspiring, and I’m proud to help them achieve any way I can.”

He’s also met with the children of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a shelter for neglected kids. Even as Butler has moved on to new teams, his love for Chicago remains secure. As proof, consider when he was a guest server for an Englewood ChiGivesBack Thanksgiving dinner in November 2019.

So through it all, one fact is absolute: the love that Bulls fans have for Jimmy Butler is special and reciprocated. Although the relationship came and went quickly, it can be summarized in several of his comments during the 2020 All-Star weekend, ironically from Chicago.

View this post on Instagram

Chicago, What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season. I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you. You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center. Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity. Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS… AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! – Jimmy G. Buckets (@staceyking21 )

A post shared by Jimmy Butler (@jimmybutler) on

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