Not many NBA players who get the defensive assignment to guard Miami Heat’s LeBron James will jump for joy. James is a handful. His size, scoring ability, and speed is more than enough to handle for a would-be defender.
But don’t tell that to the newest member of the Chicago Bulls.
Last night, the Bulls selected Jimmy Butler out of Marquette in the first round and the 6’8″ player is taking aim at locking down James and the rest of the Heat’s cast in order to help propel the Bulls past Miami:
“I’m going to put in the work to be able to guard LeBron (James) and Dwyane Wade and all those guys so the Bulls can get to that championship,” Butler said from his home in Tomball, Tex.
“But I think the biggest thing is defense. I’m going to be a pest. I’m going to take up everybody’s space, make them work for every little thing.”
I don’t know whether to appreciate the young man’s moxie or call him crazy. Either way if you are a Bulls fan you have to be loving his statement.
Not many relish the thought of defending James, or Wade. However, here is a kid already looking to shut down two of the league’s best players and he hasn’t even stepped onto an NBA court.
“Defense is a big thing for me,” Butler said. “I really take pride in my defense. I take it personal when somebody scores on me. I know you can’t shut guys down every night, but you can give it your best effort and that’s what I’m going to do on both ends of the floor in every game.”
In an era of flashiness, ego, and thoughts of making the most highlight reels, you have to appreciate Butler’s thoughts on defense. Aside from the usual defensive stats, not much will show up on a stat sheet on the defensive end. Denying ball entry, disrupting the offensive-flow of an opposing team, getting into the head of the player, all make a team that much better.
It would seem the Bulls might have that missing piece and for his sake, let’s hope he does have enough to be able to guard James and Wade. Last thing the Bulls and Butler need is to rattle the cages of two premier players in the NBA.