Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has gone head-to-head with most of the NBA’s best players over the course of his illustrious 19-year career. But one of the more underrated battles he’s had is with Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler.
Butler is on his fourth team in 11 seasons and has matched up with James a total of 42 times over that span. Those 42 games include 25 regular-season meetings and 17 playoff games over three series’. Somehow, the two are dead even against one another at 21-21, including Sunday’s Heat win over the Lakers, 113-107.
While James has had the edge in the playoffs (12-5), winning the series all three times, Butler has a 16-9 regular season advantage. All of these battles have led to immense respect that has formed between two of the league’s best competitors.
James gave his thoughts on facing off against Butler throughout both of their careers. “Anytime you’re playing this game throughout your career, there’s certain guys that stick out that you know when you step out on the floor, you know there’s gonna be maximum effort every possession and that’s from both sides,” James said in reference to Butler. “And you’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some, but the respect after the game is always gonna be that it was fun and exciting and to be in that matchup.”
“And it’s been like that throughout Jimmy’s whole career every time I’ve matched up with him. And I say his whole career because I’ve been in the league longer, obviously. Every time we’ve matched up, no matter what uniform he’s had on, I’ve had on, we’ve always battled it out. So nothing but respect for a guy that brings it every single night, brings his hard hat, punches his clock and leaves it all out on the floor.”
Despite both players switching teams multiple times, they have found a way to face off at least once every season. With all of the truly great NBA players the Lakers star has faced, it’s a testament to Butler that he has built such a mutual respect for the way he battles against James.
And while the two are unlikely to meet again this season — unless both find their way to the NBA Finals again — it’s clear they’ll be rooting for one another to find success within their own conferences. If they do meet in the Finals, it’ll be another hard-fought series between James and Butler.
James cites early breakdowns for loss to Heat
In Sunday’s loss, the Lakers got off to a horrible start, needing a massive fourth-quarter comeback just to have a chance at a win. It was those early breakdowns that ultimately led to the loss, James said.
“We just had too many breakdowns. Versus a team that’s this well-coached, you can’t have multiple breakdowns throughout the course of a game, throughout the course of a possession, throughout the first half or quarter because they’ll make you pay. There’s a lot of teams in this league that times won’t make you pay for mistakes, but they are not one of them and they made us pay every time.”
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