OPINION: It's time to give Miami's Jimmy Butler the superstar status he deserves

OPINION: It's time to give Miami's Jimmy Butler the superstar status he deserves
Butler carried his team past the Bucks
Butler carried his team past the Bucks
When Jimmy Butler (33) scored 56 points to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in Game Four of their first-round series, history was made. Those 56 points were a Miami Heat playoff record, and the tied-fourth most points in NBA playoff history. Something special had just occurred, and ‘Playoff Jimmy’ was the man responsible for that.

Days later, Butler sunk 42 points - including a game-tying bucket with two seconds to go to send the game to overtime -  to help the Heat to a 4-1 victory over the number one seed and favourites for the championship.

Jimmy Butler stood up when the lights were brightest on the biggest of stages. It’s time to give him the respect he deserves.

The Bucks were predicted to waltz past the Heat and cruise through to the next round by absolutely everyone. It was not meant to be a competitive contest. Yet somehow, Miami flipped the script on its head, and eliminated Milwaukee in five, completing one of the biggest shocks in NBA playoff history.

And Miami solely have Butler to thank. He has been nicknamed by fans ‘Playoff Jimmy’ due to the fact that he always seems to raise his level in the post-season. Butler's headline-stealing moment was when he put in one of the greatest performances ever seen in the playoffs on April 25th in the Heat's 119-114 win.

However, he was immense throughout the whole series. Over the five games, Butler averaged just under 38 points, six rebounds and five assists and was shooting 60% from the field. Truly sensational numbers.

Butler is a very good player in the regular season but is never really considered an MVP candidate. The transformation he undergoes during the playoffs is simply stunning.

Butler has played 201 regular season games with the Heat, and never once scored over 40 points. In 47 playoff games for them, he has scored more than 40 points eight times.

His average this season before the playoffs was 22 points, and as mentioned previously, he is averaging around 38 points in the postseason. 

Following Game Four, Butler was quick to play down his 'Playoff Jimmy' tag.

It’s not a thing. It’s no,” Butler said. “I just be hooping.”

‘Playoff Jimmy’ is most certainly a thing, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not.

But you know what, that shouldn’t really be an issue at all. Let him be ‘Playoff Jimmy’. 

The Heat team isn't that strong, and Butler doesn’t really have any support around him. This is especially true as of this moment, with both Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo out injured.

If he wants to coast through the regular season and do just about enough to get his franchise into the playoffs and then up his level when push comes to shove at the business end, what’s the issue? He is pacing himself.

The basketball world doesn’t really talk about Butler in that superstardom light. But it’s time we do just that. He is capable of carrying his side through the playoffs single-handedly.

That is the definition of a superstar. The likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James have earnt that label and have the ability to win games on their own. Butler should be given that exact label too.

It's hard to really explain what makes Butler so great because, come the playoffs, everything seems to click into gear, with his midrange and three-point shooting suddenly becoming razor-sharp. He is powerful defensively too and always tends to make the right decision. Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said that he is "one of the most intelligent basketballer players in the association."

When he is on the floor, Miami have a chance. He turns up when it really matters, almost more ruthlessly than anyone else. There's no other compliment to pay him.

Everyone knows how good Butler is but maybe he is even better than that, maybe we should be paying more respect to his level of greatness. Certainly, it's time to give him the respect he deserves.

One thing is for sure, with 'Playoff Jimmy' in full flow, no one will sit comfortably coming up against the Heat this post-season.

Miami Heat take on New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference playoff semi-finals starting on April 30th.


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