Jimmy Butler has tried his best to hide the disappointment from not being selected a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team after the results from fan voting were revealed last week, but there was little doubt he’d be named as a reserve.
“Nope. I have no idea what’s going to happen,” said Butler at the Bulls’ morning shootaround held at UCLA’s campus.
“If I’m an All-Star, God meant for it to happen. If I’m not, I’m going on vacation with my brothers.”
Butler will have to put off that vacation in some sunny warm environment and pack up his parka for Toronto, since he was selected by the coaches as a reserve along with Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Toronto’s Chris Bosh, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas and Washington’s John Wall Thursday afternoon.
[SHOP: Buy a Jimmy Butler jersey]
“Nobody knows what is going to happen, let’s get that out of the way now,” Butler said. “When the time presents itself, we can talk about it then.”
TNT’s Charles Barkley called Butler the best shooting guard in the NBA and said he deserved to be in the starting lineup but fans voted for Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry for the guard spots. Butler’s numbers have risen again for his second consecutive All-Star appearance, averaging 22.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a league-leading 38.3 minutes per contest.
“He has his opinion along with everybody else so it’s fine with me,” Butler said. “Everybody knows how hard I play, what I’m trying to accomplish. Just being an All-Star period is enough for me.”
Pau Gasol made a late push in the fan voting and almost repeated as starter but missed out by 360 votes. Earlier in the day he was optimistic the coaches would vote him in, while rightfully bemoaning the big men being shut out in the voting due to the NBA removing the center position from the ballot.
“The way it is now, it’s point guards, shooting guards and small forwards in the starting lineup. It’s unfair for the bigger guys who play well and work hard, but we don’t have that type of shot,” Gasol said. “It is a game where people want to see those flashy guys. I fell short so let’s see what happens if the coaches pay justice (laughs). Either way, I’m happy and proud of how I’m performing this year, at a high level, regardless of whether I’m on the team or not.”
Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins said the same thing earlier this week in an interview with Yahoo’s Marc Spears, as he wasn’t voted despite averaging over 27 points and 11 rebounds.
“It’s disrespectful to big men,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not really fair. But that’s how it is.”
“Of course, it’s going to be most winning teams’ [players], the most popular players [selected]. The other guys that play for the Milwaukee Bucks, and in our case the Sacramento Kings, who are playing just as good basketball, will never be seen. I don’t think it’s fair.”
Cousins was named as a reserve, somewhat righting the wrong but Gasol was on the outside looking in, missing out on his sixth All-Star appearance while Butler made his second.