Jimmy Butler returned to the Bradley Center once again, but this time not only was he wearing red and black, he was playing a significant role on a playoff team.
Butler did not disappoint, scoring 18 points in 27 minutes while grabbing 6 boards and two steals in a 104-88 victory over the Bucks.
Here’s what Butler, coach Tom Thibodeau and Luol Deng had to say about the second year standout from Tomball, Texas.
“Steady progress. He’s earned everything that he’s gotten. He’s put the work in. He continues to put the work in, and he keeps getting better. As long as he has a great attitude and a great approach he will continue to get better. He has done a little bit of everything for us.”
Q: Do you feel slighted at all for not being selected to the Rising Stars game?
“Not at all. I feel like I’m a part of this team. It would have been fun but I’m not worried about it. Just focus on the Bucks and the games we have going forward.”
Q: Is it big to return to the Bradley Center where you had so many great games for Marquette?
“It’s big (to return to the Bradley Center). This is like a home away from home. It’s great to see familiar faces up in the stands and as I walk up to the court. Those are the same people that showed me so much love while I was here in the blue and gold. It’s good to shake their hand and say hello to them.”
Q: Is Buzz going to be here?
“Buzz will be here. I get to take pictures with him and his kids before the game. A lot of credit goes to them for believing in me and pushing me to the limit each and every day, when I thought that I couldn’t go anymore, making sure that I could. I love him for that and I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
Q: What’s it like playing almost 48 minutes in a game? Is it mentally and physically tough?
“Mentally, it’s a mind-boggling thing. Physically, just to see what Lu goes through every single day, and then you have to practice in between. That’s tough, but it shows you how much you have to take care of your body because your body is your motor in this league and you have to take care of it for the entire time. It’s definitely tough.”
Q: Do you take the All-Star snub as a chip on your shoulder, or do you just let it fall off?
“I let it fall off. I don’t look at things like that because I feel like that’s more of an individual thing. I mean, kudos to those guys because they’re great players but I love this team and I want to play along with those guys. I’ll do whatever it takes for this team to win. I’m a competitor. Would I want to compete in that game? Of course, but I’m a Bulls player to tell you the truth”
Q: Have you been told that you might be added to it since Irving is playing in both?
“I wasn’t. I really don’t pay attention to it. Maybe if they were to come and tell me I’d take it in mind. But they just told me I wasn’t in the game.”
Q: Are you thinking about going down to Houston for the All Star break?
“Yea, since it’s home. I thought about it. But I want to go see Ronnie (Brewer) in Arkansas and I want to be up here working. No days off, that’s the motto I live by. As it gets closer, I guess I’ll find out.”
“It doesn’t matter whether he starts or comes off the bench. He can guard, he can score, he can play multiple positions, he makes hustle plays, he’s a multiple effort guy. He’s doing a lot for us. He’s a big part of this team.”
Q: It seems like Jimmy is following in your footsteps and has a similar style to you, is that something you see?
“I tell Jimmy, you are a great player when you copy someone who you play with. I did it the same way. When we had Adrien Griffen, and now he’s coaching with us. You are smart when you do that. The whole thing with the NBA, there’s a lot of good players, a lot of time players don’t figure out what they can do. I think Jimmy is starting to figure out what he can do.”
Q: How does confidence come about?
“You got to add hard work in and then confidence builds up. You know confidence builds up and you start to realize what you can do and then confidence builds up night in and night out.
Q: Anything different in his preparation the last couple months?
“No, it’s the same. He stuck with it. We told him his time will come and he just has to keep playing. It’s a long season and we need him to keep playing like this. It makes us a better team. He’s just got to continue what he’s doing. We all love what Jimmy brings to this team, but it makes it easier when you’re around guys that appreciate what you bring night in and night out. Whether he’s getting the numbers or not, we get the hard work that he’s putting in practice. It allows you to respect that.
Q: You must like playing in this building?
“Yea I love this building. It’s good to see familiar faces and give hugs and handshakes.”
Q: Could you tell that Nate was getting in Brandon Jennings’ head?
“Definitely. It’s crazy because every time they get a basket, you can see tem eyeing each other. They were going at it. Brandon is a big time player, but when you frustrate him, a lot of good things can happen.”
Q: Different approach starting then coming off the bench?
“Not really. I feel like I got to bring energy whether I’m starting or coming off the bench. Makes it easier though because you got, Jo (Noah) and Lu (Deng), they already got energy. I get it off of them.”
Q: How sweet is it to come back and have a performance like this?
“It’s amazing man. In front of Buzz and some teammates that were in the stands. Talking to people off the court that still remember me. It’s crazy. I miss the blue and gold jersey, but I love the red and black too.”
Q: Wes and Lazar used to come back when you were at Marquette, have you done any of that with the team now?
“Aw yea, I talk to all those guys on the Marquette team. There’s a few of them that I tell them, ‘Stay in it, don’t worry about your future. It will all take care of itself. Keep winning games and keep having fun because those years, you’ll never get them back.’ I tell tem to work hard and live in the moment.”
Q: Who was here besides Buzz?
“I know Junior (Cadougan) was up there, I know Van (Blue) was there. Jamie (McNeally). But Buzz called a practice at 9:30 p.m. so they only got to see the first half.”
Q: What did you think of Vander scoring 30?
“Man, big time, real big time. But he deserves because he works so incredibly hard. The first person he texted was me though. He was like, ‘Yea, what.’ I was like, ‘ok, he got a 30-ball’ He was telling me no one had done it since I did. That’s ok, he still knows he’s like my son. I taught him everything he knows.”
Q: Do you feel like your progression on the Bulls has mirrored your progression at Marquette?
“Yea, I’m telling you, the confidence comes from when my teammates pass me the ball and tell me ‘shoot it.’ Literally, ‘shoot it.’ And if I miss they tell me to take the same shot if I get it again. That’s the best part about this team, they constantly want me to be successful. They let me know not to pass up open shots. It’s easy to do that.”
Q: Have you talked to DJO at all now that he’s in Russia?
“I talked to him a little bit before he left. I just told him to grind it out, and he’ll be back over here soon. He deserves to be in this league. If he keeps working, he’ll end up over here.”