Jimmy Butler dominated the Timberwolves’ practice today — physically, emotionally, competitively. He admonished Tom Thibodeau, Scott Layden, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins while excelling on the court. Butler even led Minnesota’s third-stringers to a win over the starters.
It was a tour de force, and the more details that emerge, the greater the legend grows.
Butler showed up to practice late and just subbed himself into the scrimmage on the third team to go against the starting group, league sources said.
Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates such as “They ain’t [expletive]!” and “They soft!”, league sources said. Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, league sources said.
At one point, Butler found himself guarding Towns in the post and when the big man received the entry pass, Butler yelled, “He can’t do [expletive] against me!” and Towns ended up kicking the ball out, league sources said.
Neither Towns nor Wiggins confronted Butler at any point, league sources said
When practice concluded, Butler stormed out of the facility without stretching with the rest of his teammates, league sources said. However, before he departed, Wiggins gave him a hand dap, league sources said.
Towns then huddled the players up with a message centered on everyone keeping their emotions in check, league sources said. But according to some of the players, the message was empty.
Butler, via ESPN:
“Am I being tough on him? Yeah, that’s who am I,” he said. “I’m not the most talented player on the team. Who is the most talented player on our team — KAT. Who is the most god-gifted player on our team — Wiggs. Who plays the hardest? Me! I play hard. I put my body (on the line) every day in practice, every day in games. That’s my passion. Everybody leads in different ways. That’s how I show I’m here for you.”
Towns getting punked then trying to lead with a message of handling emotions is everything that bothers Butler.
Butler wants his younger teammates to match his intensity. He’s right: Towns is more talented. Wiggins has more natural tools. Imagine if they even neared Butler’s fire.
Butler worked his way to the top the hard way. I’m sure he resents his teammates not following his example, but he knows only one way to lead.
It might not always be emotional as it was today. Arriving late, putting on that type of show then leaving early is an all-time practice move.
But if Butler remains in Minnesota, expect more of the same sentiment behind his actions.