Miami Heat fans may have noticed that Jimmy Butler and Max Strus have a rather unconventional way of showing respect to each other.
They can often be seen flashing their middle fingers at each other in place of a handshake, a tradition that was born during Strus’ first year with the team, according to him.
The 27-year-old recently explained how it all started.
“My first year here we played one-on-one a lot and it would get intense and we just started saying ‘F You’ to each other a lot,” Strus told ESPN. “One time, he just didn’t shake my hand and I flicked him off.”
In classic Butler style, he loved Strus’ gesture.
“As he walked away after his loss, Butler turned back and witnessed the one-finger salute,” wrote ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
“He loved it.
“On a team full of players who are wired just like him, Strus earned even more of Butler’s respect.”
The rest is history.
“Then that was our handshake,” Strus said. “It’s just our thing.”
Without a doubt, Miami’s roster is full of personality. The Heat are a gritty and likable bunch, and it’s easy to tell that they like playing with each other, even if that sometimes means showing love in bizarre ways.
Strus explained that his agent wasn’t totally sold on the ritual at first.
“My agent [Mark Bartelstein] wasn’t very keen of it,” Strus said. “He was like, ‘If you get fined for this, I’m not helping you out at all.’ But nah, it’s jokes. Everybody knows it’s just our thing. My parents don’t care, they were all right with it, but Mark wasn’t too fond of it at first, but he gets it now.”
Strus and Butler would certainly love nothing more than to etch their names into Heat history by leading the team to a championship. They have a chance to do so this year, but there’s a big obstacle standing in the way of the team and that goal.
In fact, there are three big obstacles in the way. Miami needs to win three games in a row over the Denver Nuggets in order to claim the 2023 NBA title, and that’s no small task.
The Heat have defied the odds on countless occasions throughout the 2023 NBA Playoffs, but they’re going to need to play their best basketball of the season to put together a 3-0 stretch against a lethal Nuggets team.
If Miami is going to stage a comeback for the ages, it’s going to have to start on Monday in Game 5. It will be a road game for the Heat, who will also need to win Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road in order to get the job done.
No matter what happens, the 2022-23 Heat will likely be remembered for a long time as a team that went on one of the most improbable playoff runs in NBA history, but in order for the story to have a happy ending, the team has some serious work to do.