Andre Iguodala on Jimmy Butler: ‘He’s probably the closest that I’ve seen to Kobe Bryant with that mentality’

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Andre Iguodala has played with and against some of the greatest NBA players of all time during his 19-season career, and he said the mindset of former Miami Heat teammate Jimmy Butler comes the closest to that of the late, great Kobe Bryant.

Butler has earned the nickname “Playoff Jimmy” based on his ability to rise to the occasion in the biggest games, and Iguodala said that will to win is what separates him from current players and puts him in a class with the late Bryant, who was a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 33-year-old Heat forward has yet to win an NBA title himself but has helped Miami reach the NBA Finals in 2020 and 2023 in addition to another trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in the past four seasons.

Iguodala played 21 regular season games for the Heat during the 2019-20 NBA season and then played 21 playoff games in a run that ended with a Finals loss to the Lakers. He also played 63 regular season games for Miami in the 2020-21 campaign before returning to the Golden State Warriors, where he won the championship in 2022.

Butler’s ability to raise the play of others was particularly evident last season, when the eighth-seeded Heat advanced all the way to the NBA Finals with a host of undrafted role players, eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics along the way before losing the title to the Denver Nuggets.

Bryant’s famous “Mamba Mentality” was the driving force behind his legendary career which resulted in five NBA titles in a span from 2000 to 2010. Iguodala himself is a four-time NBA champion with the Warriors, having played with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, some of the best players of their generation.

Now 39 years old, Iguodala was named MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals when he helped win the first championship of Golden State’s recent dynasty. He also teamed with Bryant on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, winning a gold medal after Bryant praised his efforts on defense.

So if anyone knows how close Butler’s will might be to Bryant’s, it is Iguodala, who has seen it all during his distinguished career.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.