Sunday night, Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals after a decisive 125-113 Game 6 victory over the Boston Celtics. The Heat had barely finished taking pictures with the Eastern Conference trophy before the Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account began mining social media for any Miami analysis that did not age well. One nugget arrived in the form of a post on 94 WIP’s website from station Brand Manager and Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcaster Spike Eskin:
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) September 28, 2020
That’s a strong headline that doesn’t look too good in the afterglow of the Heat’s playoff success and the 76ers’ early exit. While the Sixers move through the offseason directionless and in a bit of disarray as they search for a head coach who can fully unlock the potential of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Heat continue their playoff march with a seemingly better constructed roster. Miami has found a solid rotation in Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Butler, who are complemented by homegrown talents Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson. Rookie Tyler Herro has been a superb bench player for Erik Spoelstra.
But, looking back, was Spike completely wrong? As Eskin pointed out in his post, Butler was a divisive locker room presence in Minnesota, and he orchestrated his way out of the Timberwolves organization with a little help from ESPN. In Chicago, Butler butted heads with both Derrick Rose and head coach Fred Hoiberg. And it’s no secret his relationship with Brett Brown was less than friendly during the 2018-19 season.
But overrated? Butler certainly is a hard worker, and of course he makes it known that he brings a blue collar mentality to the court. As a brand manager himself, I’m sure Spike appreciates Butler’s self-marketing skills. It also seemed as if Butler grabbed the mantle when the Sixers needed a steady 4th quarter presence last season. His absence from the 76ers lineup was felt most sharply at the end of games, especially in the playoff bubble.
And, whether you believe Butler was just along for the ride as the Heat’s young core jelled or was an instrumental part of the championship run, there is no doubt Miami has taken a step forward this season while the 76ers have fallen backwards. And, in the cold reality of the hot take market, that’s all that matters. Until next season.
For his part, Spike was magnanimous in defeat:
Congratulations to the Heat's fourth best player, Jimmy Butler.
— Spike Eskin (@SpikeEskin) September 28, 2020
Kinkead: I’d just add that Jimmy had a very average game seven in the Sixers/Raptors series. Had a big pick and roll possession towards the end of regulation that amounted to nothing.