Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler: 'Damn right I'm confrontational'

Dave Uram
January 30, 2019 - 8:20 am

Jimmy Butler has been a 76er for two-and-a-half months filled of wins, buzzer beaters and controversies, most notably the ESPN reported film session where he apparently engaged in aggressive conversation with Brett Brown​, both of whom downplayed the situation. 

Butler was part of reported drama before he arrived to Philadelphia, and it didn’t take long for that to pop up with the Sixers. And although he downplays what happened in the film session, he doesn’t hold back in describing who he is when sitting down with Yahoo’s Chris Haynes on the Posted Up podcast around the time the the Sixers lost to the Thunder January 19. ​ 

Related: 5 things: 76ers beat Lakers 121-105​

“​Damn right I'm confrontational," Butler said. "I am confrontational." 

Butler says that type of personality was enhanced as a young player with the Chicago Bulls, when he was playing behind guys like Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Loul Deng and Joakim Noah. Butler said he would watch those guys swear at each other in practice when a mistake was made, thus becoming used to that type of back and forth method, something he's carried throughout his career. 

Regardless of how Butler picked that mentality up and whether or not it's effective, rumors of how he acts behind the scenes have created a perception about him, one he told Haynes he doesn't care about. 

"I would be the first to tell you, I don't give a damn," Butler said. 

"I've always been like that. I haven’t said it all the time. I’ve always acted it though. Like if you know me and you’re around me, man, if you  not around me everyday, I don’t give a damn what you say because you don’t know what I go through. You don’t know how my emotions are like this (gesturing his hand up and down). You just think I’m just riding on a high all the time and I can say and do whatever I want. When you have a bad day, I bet you be cussin’ and punching just like everybody else.

"If you're not around me everyday and you don't know me, you can feel free to judge. 

"If you just come be around me for X amount of hours, X amount of days, you’ll be like, ‘ah, I get it. I understand. I know a little bit about him. I know why he do what he do. I know why he think the way that he thinks. I know why he move the way that he move.’ But you’re not (around me.) You only see bits and pieces from what you get out of the media or from what somebody is telling you. Therefore, say whatever you want to say. I’ll probably going to say something back about you. Probably not, but because I don’t really pay attention to it."

Haynes asked Butler if he feels misunderstood, and Butler responded, "Yeah, a lot of the times, yeah. I like it though. I like it. I like it." 

Butler may be misunderstood and that's why the Sixers need to make his situation work long term. His two-way game is perfect for the way they like to play and he's given them that much coveted third star. If he is in fact a headache, that's something the team needs to chalk up. A lot of the great players in the history of sports are type-A personalities. And this a personality Butler admits he can improve. 

“I’m not perfect," Butler said. "I really do be working on it though. I be reading books about it. I be journaling about it. I be talking about it. It’s hard. It’s hard for me to change it. I feel like I’ve been a certain way for 29, going on 30 years. It’s tough to flip a switch like that. I really be trying and like I be having to hold back a lot of the time, and then you know, sometimes it just boils over, and it’s just like boom, there you go, there you have it. I think I’ve been good of not doing it as of late.” 

Butler claims he's not thinking about free agency approaching this off-season because that would take his focus away from the present. Butler can opt-out of his contract, and likely will, to seek a max deal. Regardless of how "confrontational" he is, it would behoove the Sixers to invest, especially considering they traded two starters to acquire Butler. 

Butler sits with Haynes for about an hour. The comments about his personality and perception are in the first 20 minutes. It's worth your listen.