Former Defensive Player of the Year admits Jimmy Butler would have given him problems

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Former NBA player Metta Sandiford-Artest indicated that doing battle with Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler would have presented a very strong challenge for the one-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Sandiford-Artest (originally known as Ron Artest) offered his succinct social media comment in the aftermath of the Heat’s thrashing of the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.

In that Game 3 Eastern Conference Finals contest, Butler actually delivered modest numbers in comparison to teammate Gabe Vincent’s 29-point performance. Still, Butler provided all-around effectiveness, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals on the night.

Butler has once again been the driving force of the Heat, with the team now just one win away from reaching the Finals for the second time in his four years with the team.

During this postseason, Butler has managed to make the absence of the injured Tyler Herro virtually a nonissue. The six-time All-Star’s value to the team was especially evident in the team’s first-round series win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

In Game 4 of that series, Butler led a comeback to give the Heat a commanding 3-1 lead by scoring 56 points, which got plenty of reactions from people around the league.

Two nights later, he delivered a clutch basket late in regulation to help the Heat force overtime. Miami wound up winning the fifth and final game of the series by two points.

Sandiford-Artest’s aggressive approach to the game once mirrored what Butler is doing now. In addition to his Defensive Player of the Year award, he was named four times to one of the league’s All-Defensive team.

Like Butler, Sandiford-Artest played the game with an edge. However, unlike Butler’s ability to focus his energies on the game, one ill-advised reaction in November 2004 forever marred Sandiford-Artest’s accomplishments.

In that instance, the 43-year-old’s sparking of what became known as “The Malice at the Palace” resulted in his suspension for the remainder of that campaign.

Butler and the Heat are too close to the 2023 NBA Finals to even think about getting involved in a similar melee. While Butler did engage in some heated talk during Game 2 with the Celtics’ Grant Williams, he was able to keep his emotions in check and help his team win.

On Tuesday night, Butler will once again show the skills that have impressed Sandiford-Artest as he and his Heat teammates attempt to sweep the Celtics.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.