In what was essentially a must-win game for the Miami Heat, Jimmy Butler turned in a historic NBA Finals performance to lead them past the Los Angeles Lakers. Butler capped off his triple-double by shouting “You’re in trouble!” toward LeBron James and the Lakers bench late in the fourth quarter.
While Butler has certainly developed a reputation for holding little, if nothing back, he explained after Game 3 those were words James had for the Heat. James shared the message for his former team after the Lakers fell behind by 13 points but closed the first quarter on a 14-4 run.
So Butler returned the favor after driving past Markieff Morris for a layup that effectively iced the game for the Heat with 1:13 remaining. “I mean, that’s competition at its finest,” Butler said of the trash talk.
“I think LeBron has got the best of me way too many times. I respect the guy for it, but this is a different time now, a different group of guys that I have around me, and we are here to win, we are here to compete. We’re not going to lay down, we’re going to fight back in this thing, even it up 2-2. It means nothing.
“We stay focused on ourselves that’s how we got here. But we’re just settling down. I think it’s a lot of bright lights, it’s a big stage for almost everybody except for Coach Spo, Andre, OG (Udonis Haslem), and nobody been here before.
“But we’re coming to realize that we belong here. We’re a really good team and we can win, as we have shown tonight, if we play basketball the right way, if we do what we say we’re going to do. So everybody is just becoming more and more comfortable as the days go by.”
Butler finished the night with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assist. Per Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player — teammate or opponent — to outscore, out-rebound and out-assist James in a Finals game.
“I got the easy job. These guys create so much space for me, I get to shoot it whenever I’m open, pass it whenever I’m not. I really do have the easy job,” Butler said.
LeBron embraces competition
Although James and the Lakers fell short and saw their NBA Finals lead cut to 2-1, he was complimentary of Butler and their battle on the court.
“Love it. One of the best competitors we have in our game,” James said. “For me personally, I don’t know how many more opportunities I’m going to have, so to be able to go against a fierce competitor like that is something I’ll look back on when I’m done playing. I’ll miss those moments.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!