NEW ORLEANS — Some would say being named as an All-Star starter is a mark of true superstardom in the NBA, while others would say the whistles going in a player’s direction is how superstar respect is truly applied.
In Jimmy Butler’s case, the tweet from official Zach Zarba when Butler’s potential game-winning jumper came up short Thursday night could be the best example of how Butler has risen in stature.
Of course, Butler doesn’t see it that way, as Celtics guard Marcus Smart touched Butler’s elbow on his release and could have affected a shot that hit the front rim—and the NBA agreed in its two-minute report released Friday afternoon.
Butler made the subsequent free throws and doesn’t see why there’s any level of controversy.
“A foul’s a foul,” said Butler at the NBA’s All-Star media availability at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans Friday afternoon. “Everybody keeps asking me if he fouled me or not, or the call. If I hit your elbow when you’re shooting a jump shot, and you miss it, you’re gonna be howling. It’s a foul. You can’t knock that it was a foul.”
Joking that Celtics guard and fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas is still upset with him for the call, as Thomas blasted the officiating after the game, he seems to understand on some level the amount of discourse that call has picked up in the past day or so.
Butler, one of the most physical players in the league given his position and size, would surely howl if he were on the other end of a call but since it went his way and enabled the Bulls to hit the All-Star break on a high, would only relent ever-so-slightly.
“Was it a ticky-tack foul? Yes,” Butler said. “But I would’ve made it if he didn’t hit my elbow, I believe.”
However, on the subject of superstar calls, Butler wouldn’t give any credence to the notion he gets the same benefit of the doubt as All-Star participants LeBron James, Kevin Durant and James Harden.
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Whether it’s Butler’s belief that he’ll always be viewed as the underdog or that he’s not yet recognized among the game’s truly elite players, he made certain to leave no room for interpretation.
“I don’t get superstar calls,” Butler said. “I’m pretty sure that when I get fouled, I get fouled.”