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Tom Thibodeau admits he didn’t see Jimmy Butler as superstar on Bulls, now considers him ‘elite’
- Updated: February 7, 2021
Tom Thibodeau recently admitted that when he was head coach of the Chicago Bulls, the team didn’t perceive Jimmy Butler as a superstar.
He also admitted that his perception of Butler has changed dramatically in recent years.
More Tom Thibodeau on Butler in Chicago: "To say we saw him as a superstar, we didn't see that." Now sees Butler as, "One of the elite players in the league."
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 7, 2021
Thibodeau, who currently serves as head coach of the New York Knicks, delivered that reflection of Butler prior to the matchup between the Knicks and Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon.
Butler was the last player taken in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, a status that likely caused many in the Bulls organization to question the possibility of Butler ever becoming one of the league’s top players.
During Butler’s first few seasons with the Bulls, he delivered modest on-court numbers, but then emerged during the 2014-15 season to earn the first of his five All-Star Game selections.
After Thibodeau was let go by the Bulls, he was hired as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and engineered a trade for Butler in 2017.
Thibodeau was fired by the Timberwolves 40 games into the 2018-19 season, which came after an unhappy Butler forced a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. Butler then was dealt to the Heat in 2019, while Thibodeau resurfaced prior to the start of the 2020-21 season as head coach of the Knicks.
Thibodeau’s shift in opinion about Butler’s status in the league is one that many people have likely undergone in recent years, an attitude that’s no doubt driven Butler’s highly competitive nature.
With the Heat continuing to struggle this season, that fire within Butler is something that the team needs to get back on track for what they hope will be another long playoff run.