Former Bull Jimmy Butler is known as a fierce competitor who isn't afraid to speak his mind. And he spoke his mind in a big way on Wednesday following an intense in-game altercation with Indiana Pacers forward TJ Warren.
In the game, the Miami Heat secured a 122-108 win over the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, notching their 10th road victory of the season. But things got extremely heated in the third quarter when, with the Heat leading by 23 points, Warren fouled Butler by grabbing his arm on a drive to the rim. Butler ended up spinning around and facing Warren as a result, and the two immediately started jawing at each other. They eventually had to be separated:
"You're f---ing trash."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 9, 2020
Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren got tangled up, and both players had a few words for each other 🤬 pic.twitter.com/C0VCJuuEFW
In an attempt to regain control, the referees assessed a double-technical foul on Butler and Warren. With the Heat still very much in control, and the action halted, one would think cooler heads would prevail. But not with Jimmy Butler involved. On the very next possession, Butler showed Warren how he truly felt with a physical offensive foul:
The next possession pic.twitter.com/YVyi0NfNtD— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) January 9, 2020
Butler inbounded the ball, received it back on the wing and in short order lowered his shoulder and rammed it into Warren's chest, knocking him back. Butler was called for the very, very clear offensive foul, but as everyone was walking down the court, Warren couldn't help but clap in Butler's face, earning his second tech and an ejection. Things got even worse when Butler started to blow kisses at a very agitated Warren, who raised his middle finger at Butler as he walked off the court and into the tunnel.
Despite the Heat walking out with a dominant win, Butler was evidently still very fired up about his altercation with Warren postgame. He minced no words when speaking about Warren (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald):
“He’s soft. He’s not even in my f***ing league. Nowhere near me. If I was their coach, I would never put him on me ever again."
-Jimmy Butler on Indiana Pacers forward TJ Warren
Butler finished the night with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists in the Heat's 14-point win, as they moved to 2-0 over the Pacers for the season. His actions and words on Wednesday night made some people—including a faction of Bulls' faithful—smile, loving his display of aggression and next-level trash talk in a big win. But others, including Basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale, were not pleased with Butler's antics.
Totally classless response from a talented star of @MiamiHEAT Butler doesn’t get it as so many kids watching @NBA & his every move / man take some lessons from @KingJames @AntDavis23 @StephenCurry30 etc— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 9, 2020
Regardless of how you feel about Butler's actions on Wednesday night, it is simply a fact that his team picked up the win in a game that he finished. Meanwhile, Warren was ejected—though he was somewhat baited by Butler—in a game in which his team could have used his scoring down the stretch as they tried to fight back.
The whole NBA world will surely have a little more interest the next time the Heat and the Pacers face off in what now looks like a legit rivalry, fueled by Butler's bravado. That same bravado made Butler a polarizing figure during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.
Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.