AL HAMNIK: Jimmy Butler serving up some prime 'D' for Bulls

2014-03-31T17:30:00Z 2014-04-04T19:58:20Z AL HAMNIK: Jimmy Butler serving up some prime 'D' for BullsAl Hamnik Times Columnist
March 31, 2014 5:30 pm  • 

CHICAGO | For a free autographed Tornike Shengelia game jersey, who is Jimmy Butler's closest friend on the Bulls this season?

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Give up?

Actually, there are two -- the whirlpool and ice machine.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Butler has the unenviable task of guarding the competition's best player, which in the NBA, is often a multiple choice on most teams.

But he comes through more times than not, bumping, screening, pushing, blocking, slapping, denying, attacking, on every possession.

Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Kevin Love. LaMarcus Aldridge. Paul George. Carmelo Anthony. Blake Griffin. Zach Randolph. David Lee. Rudy Gay. James Harden.

They've all traded blows and crossed paths with Butler, who's on you like lint on Velcro.

"It's a tough cover. They're all really aggressive on offense and can score in a variety of ways," Butler said. "I try to make everything difficult for 'em. Don't let them get a lot of easy baskets.

"Contest everything."

Fortunately, the former Marquette star is only 24 years old and his battery is always fully charged on game night, like when he set a franchise record by playing 60:20 in a triple overtime win at Orlando back in January.

They had to coax him out of the whirlpool afterward.

Butler's defense never takes a break or goes outside for a smoke, which is why Bulls fans and the coaching staff love this kid.

So do his constant companions, the whirlpool and ice machine.

After games, you can usually find Butler slumped in front of his cubicle, covered head to toe with ice packs.

"It's difficult, tough, but this is what I asked for," he said.

Butler's recovery time is remarkably quick, something the team wishes Derrick Rose had going in his favor.

"A lot of ice. The cold (water) tub. All of that good stuff," Butler said of his daily routine.

How's it working out?

"I'm keepin' up," he said.

Being a defensive grinder hasn't decimated his offensive contribution, completely. He's still giving the Bulls 13 points a game, while averaging 38 minutes and shooting 39 percent.

His poor shooting can be forgiven as of member of the NBA's lowest-scoring team at 93 ppg.

Prior to Sunday's close win in Boston, the Bulls were averaging just 83.3 in their previous four outings.

Bottom line, and you don't need a degree from Harvard to figure it out, is to outscore your opponent.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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