Jimmy Butler returned to Minnesota Timberwolves practice this afternoon and brought two healthy scoops of drama with him. The All-Star guard, who has made no secret about his desire to be traded, took on teammates, coaches, and front-office personnel. It was a major blow-up and a major story.
Hours later, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols scored a sit-down interview with Butler to talk about the incident. The piece aired on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter. What are the odds that Nichols would happen to be in the Minneapolis area for such a major event?
Virtually nil if it wasn’t all carefully planned by Butler and pretty darn high if it was all part of a masterplan. Only the naive would believe this to all be a coincidence.
Because it wasn’t. Nichols tweeted minutes ago that Butler called her ready to talk Tuesday night. She got on a plane and flew in this morning. Then the blowup happened. Then the interview.
This is masterful, though extremely transparent stage-managing by Butler. This was the sports equivalent of the “tick tick tick” teaser permeating politics. The show at practice was the boom.
Butler is fighting his battle on all fronts. In the locker room, on the court, and most importantly, in the media. He’s stating his position clearly and confidently and doing a good job of controlling the narrative.
This was no accident. This was a set-up. Butler waited until all the pieces were in place before lighting the fuse, then gave a “why I did” postmortem.