I’ve been out of the basketball loop for a minute. It turns out that using “I have to blog for Canis Hoopus” is not an effective excuse for not getting work done. Why my Denver-based employer doesn’t understand the importance of the Timberwolves is beyond me, but last week’s news, along with my boss’ summer vacation, is the perfect reason for diving back into the deep abyss of blogdom.
I’ve heard, through my friends, the internets, and my wildest dreams that the Timberwolves acquired Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls last week. Side note; each and every time that I read those words, my brain melts into a puddle of happiness, optimism, and something that might be described as “hope”. As a Wolves fan, I’m still coming to grips with what this “hope” emotion truly is. It’s unfamiliarity is both frightening and exciting at the same time.
Analysis of the trade and the impact that Jimmy will have on the Wolves and the rest of the Western Conference has been covered in fantastic detail on this site and throughout the rest of the world, however, while I can’t wait to see how the new look Wolves are going to space the floor or if last-minute Point Wiggs will continue, I’m far more interested in who the humanoid version of Frylock really is as a person. Is he someone that I can cheer for on and off the court? Can I take pride in emulating both his jump shot as well as his fashion sense? At what point will he start selling personalized fanny packs, and where can I acquire one?
Before I get too ahead of myself and start inscribing JB III with a heart surrounding it on the trees of Colorado, I want to fire up the vegter21 research labs to get a better idea of the newest Wolf. Who is Jimmy Butler?
Jimmy was born in Houston in 1989 but grew up in Tomball, Texas. You know who else is from Tomball? Justin Jackson, recent draft pick of the Sacramento Kings. All Wolves-Kings games henceforth will be known as “The Tussle for Tomball”. At least in my brain.
Jimmy didn’t have an easy childhood. His father wasn’t a part of his life and his mother kicked him out of the house at the age of 13. He spent his teenage years staying with friends for a few weeks at a time. It wasn’t until he became friends with a fellow Tomballian (pretty sure that’s right), Jordan Leslie, that Jimmy was able to find a more stable housing solution. Their friendship began on the basketball court, transitioned to video game sessions and sleep-overs, and eventually led to permanent home. Michelle Lambert, Jordan’s mother, who had seven children between her and her new husband already in the house, eventually offered Jimmy a place to stay for good.
It was Michelle that pushed Jimmy towards Marquette. He starred in his senior season at Tomball High School (go Cougars!) but didn’t have enough of a track record, nor any AAU experience, to garner the attention of any major programs. He spent a year at Tyler Junior College getting buckets. Lots of buckets. Enough so that D1 programs started to notice. He received offers from Marquette, Kentucky, Clemson, Mississippi State and Iowa State. In a ESPN article from 2011, Michelle had this to say about Marquette.
"He had a lot of offers, but I was impressed by Marquette for academic reasons," she said. "That's a great academic school. I told him he should go there because basketball may not work out long-term. He needed a good education and a degree to fall back on."
On Senior Night at Marquette, it was Michelle that walked Jimmy onto the court. He says that they talk every morning and spent his draft night, where he was taken 30th by the Bulls, watching from the Lambert’s home in Tomball.
In the same article, Jimmy stresses that the story of his childhood shouldn’t elicit pity from anyone. Instead, his childhood created the player and person that he is today. One that is continuing to fight and work his way towards being a superstar.
"Please, I know you're going to write something. I'm just asking you, don't write it in a way that makes people feel sorry for me," he said. "I hate that. There's nothing to feel sorry about. I love what happened to me. It made me who I am. I'm grateful for the challenges I've faced. Please, don't make them feel sorry for me."
Humble looks good on you, JB. I’m still blaming my parents for the time they made me mow the lawn instead of going swimming with my friends. No wonder I have commitment issues. I can’t imagine having to go through my formative years without a home. Despite this, Butler continues to have a close relationship with his biological parents. He says, “I don't hold grudges. I still talk to my family. My mom. My father. We love each other. That's never going to change.”
I’m already sold. Regardless of what happens on the court, I’m Butler for Life. I may also position myself to get adopted by the Lamberts, but that’s further down the road.
So what’s modern day Jimmy like? Let’s round out this character study with a couple of additional tidbits.
- He likes country music. Not my thing but if there weren’t any flaws in Butler’s game, I’d start to get suspicious.
The story of Jimmy’s passion for country is detailed in a Rolling Stone article from 2015:
“I actually picked up country in college. You know those Beats by Dre headphones? Everybody had them in the locker room. Everybody’s listening to warm up music, hip-hop and this and that. I would say, “Turn it down,” because the headphones are so loud there’s music coming from every direction. They’re like, “Don’t tell me what to do, put on your headphones unless you want to hear this.” The next game, I came in listening to Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby” and everybody says, “Oh man, don’t listen to that. Turn that down.” I said what they said to me: “No, you listen to your headphones. I listen to mine.” Then I actually started to get into it. Ever since, I’ve been a huge fan. It has a little pop, a little hip-hop within it, and I’ve built a couple of relationships with country artists. I just try to support those who are really great in their class. I love music as a whole. Country music, hip-hop. I just like people being passionate with what they love to do.”
I’m not familiar with who this is, but the internets tell me it’s Luke Bryan, who seems to be a pretty big deal in the world of country.
- He’s best friends with Mark Wahlberg. Wait, let me fact check that. That can’t be right. Mark Wahlberg? Well, the internets have never lied to me before, so I guess we’ll go with it.
They met in Chicago when Wahlberg was filming another Oscar-worthy performance in the seminal motion picture of our time: Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 2013. From there, they’ve dined at each others homes, Butler regularly attends the basketball games of Wahberg’s kids, and they’ve taken the odd trip to Paris together.
Butler had this to say about his bestie:
“He wants to the best at what he does,” said Butler. “He taught me you have to sacrifice — waking up early, eating right, going to church, doing what you’re supposed to be doing each day. He taught me if you do right in this world and you do right by people, the sky is the limit for you.”
Could Target Center sightings of the head of Wahlburger be in our future? I hope so! I guess. But not really. I really don’t care. I’m fully supportive of Butler and his best friend, but Chance the Rapper would be a lot cooler
- He has a boombox fish tank.
“50 is a solid number”
The country music and the Wahlberg infiltration threw me for a second, but having a huge boombox fishtank in his house has immediately drawn me back in. Yes, I’m extremely excited for what’s going to occur on the court next season, but I’m even more excited with the person that Jimmy seems to be.
Welcome to Minnesota, JB3! I can’t express how thrilled I am to have you here. If you want to teach someone to appreciate country music or if you happen to be looking for a new best friend, there’s a certain blogger that you should meet. Just let me know when and where.