Jimmy Butler opens up on his humble beginnings: ‘Nobody wanted to pass me the ball’

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Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler credited his former teammate Richard Hamilton for instilling a focus and work ethic early in his career when he “wasn’t that good.”

Butler, who was the No. 30 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, had a small role with the Chicago Bulls early in his career. However, he focused on becoming a solid defender for the team, and he has since developed into one of the best players in the NBA.

“I think it’s always been a thing,” Butler said of hunting for steals. “But I think that comes from Richard Hamilton, actually, who taught me at a young age. Because I wasn’t that good whenever I came into the league, like nobody wanted to pass me the ball.”

Butler averaged just 2.6 points per game in 42 games in his rookie season for Chicago. He took a step in his sophomore season, averaging 8.6 points per game and starting 20 games for the Bulls.

From there, his career took off.

The six-time All-Star averaged double-digit points per game in each of his next 10 seasons.

Butler has become an elite scorer for the Heat, and he took the team to the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season and the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2021-22 campaign.

It’s clear that the superstar came from humble beginnings in the NBA, but his work ethic has turned him into a star. Butler still has a penchant for locking up on the defensive end, leading the league in steals per game in the 2020-21 season and averaging 1.6 steals per game for his career.

Butler fits in perfectly with Miami’s culture, especially since he is willing to do the dirty work on the defensive end that some stars aren’t.

This season, the Heat have gotten off to a slow start, winning 18 of their first 35 games. However, the team has won back-to-back matchups to move into the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference.

Butler is the driving force for Miami, and he’s shown he can take this team on deep playoff runs already in his short tenure with the franchise.

Heat fans may want to thank Hamilton for helping Butler improve, because the Heat star is certainly better now than he was in his first few seasons in the league.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.