CLEVELAND – It wasn’t necessarily a choice shot, but to Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler’s credit, he did take his own shot.
With time running out on the shot clock in the first quarter of Monday night’s 118-100 victory over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, Butler did the old-school thing, hitting a wide five-point hook shot. feet on the line that evoked shadows of the Hall of Fame. Fame Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Captain, of course, was one of the NBA’s quietest superstars. Butler? Something completely different.
Then, in the middle of the shot conversion, Butler, with enough voice to be captured on the broadcast, shouted the words: “Sky Hook!” before smiling at him.
“I just had to let everyone know that that was the shot I was going to make, and there was nothing anyone could do about it, because I had already made up my mind,” Butler said after the win that got the Heat back on track after that the Bulls had won. snapped the Heat’s seven-game winning streak on Saturday night.
Once his unexpected 3-point shooting spree at the start of the season cooled, Butler said it was time to move on to something else.
“Yeah, man,” he said with a smile, “I have to pick my spots wisely, because I’m on a three-point shooting slump right now. So I have to go for what I know, which is the skyhook.”
Not that he necessarily knows the last time he made such a radical attempt.
“Probably in practice,” he said. “I’m just out there doing things.”
The spectacle, teammate Kevin Love said, left a mixed reaction to having to feed Butler’s ego.
“I don’t think I wanted to reach that movement. I don’t think he intended to get to that point,” Love said with a smile. “It just happened organically and naturally. And I hate that he came in.
“But for us as a group, I’m happy it happened. That’s great for Jimmy.”
Jimmy with the Skyhook ???? pic.twitter.com/0ml8BHV7Gm
– Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) November 21, 2023
While he didn’t catch Butler’s narration in real time, coach Erik Spoelstra considered the move a fitting tribute to Heat president Pat Riley, who coached Adbul-Jabbar during the center’s prime.
“I’ll tell you who’s happy with that is Pat,” Spoelstra said, before turning his attention to Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, the third stop on this five-game trip. “Pat always wants our guys to work on the aerial hook and he’s not wrong. If someone could really develop that, like the original Captain did, it would be an incredible weapon.
“But that just shows how talented Jimmy is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him practice that, it was very fluid, smooth.”
After Monday night’s game, Butler explained why he made the short trip to fly from Chicago to Oshkosh, Wis., on Sunday’s day off to watch teammate Nikola Jovic make his G League season debut with the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
“Niko, I have to go see my son, man. “I’m a big fan of Niko,” Butler said of the Heat’s 2022 first-round pick out of Serbia. “I think he will help this organization a lot once I’m done here.
“That’s my dog, that’s my brother, I love him to death. So any time I get a chance to see him play, I’ll watch him.”
Jovic, in the midst of what will be at least a three-game season with the Heat’s G League affiliate, closed out that loss to the Milwaukee Bucks’ affiliate with 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-8 on 3- suggestions, with Butler sitting near the Skyforce bench.
Butler, however, had some advice for Sioux Falls coach Kasib Powell, a former Heat forward, when it came to deploying the 6-foot-10 big man.
“Stop playing Niko at five, man,” Butler said. “Niko is not a five.”