A lot of teams were hoping to get Kyle Lowry to join them, as he was probably the biggest name of Free Agency this summer. But, it was obvious Miami was the favorite from the start and Lowry eventually decided to take his talents to South Beach. With Jimmy Butler, Lowry will again have a superstar teammate, but this time it's going to be a lot different.
Kyle Lowry on Jimmy Butler: "He’s a ‘lil bit more crazy"
New Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, who joined the team in the offseason, described the difference between Jimmy Butler and former teammates Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan. Lowry and DeMar played together in Toronto before DeRozan was traded to San Antonio Spurs for Leonard.
“Butler is different, in that he's a little bit more crazy. He wears his emotion on his sleeve. Whereas the other two I played with, DeMar and Kawhi, they are a little more quiet."
This is where team culture comes in. Butler's NBA experience started with loud, vocal teammates such as Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Under Tom Thibodeau’s system, which requires players to play extended minutes and play hard defense for 48 minutes, Butler learned to become a leader himself and set the tone for his future teammates.
DeMar DeRozan, who spent nine seasons in Toronto before playing for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, was bred in a culture that promotes a calculated system. Dwayne Casey and Coach Pop’s approach to the game was more cerebral; they promoted ball movement over isolated plays.
Leonard played with Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan, who rarely made news outside great performances on the court. The Spurs trio was not much of a media darling because they kept things simple, private, and just let their game do the talking.
Nature vs. nurture
In a way, a player’s personality is largely shaped by the first team they join. Just ask Kevin Durant, who former teammate Kendrick Perkins claimed got out of Oklahoma City Thunder because he could not be himself in the team. At that time, the Thunder were trying to mimic how the Spurs ran their team. As a member of the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets, Durant became more vocal of his opinions and more active on social media. Had he stayed with Spurs-like OKC, the KD we know today would have been a lot different.
When Butler is compared to Kawhi Leonard, the difference in how they conduct themselves on and off the court is obvious. Butler is a vocal leader who likes to challenge his teammates to elevate their games. Meanwhile, Leonard is the chill guy who appears not to give a damn but remains highly effective because he leads by example. He scores and defends with the league's best, which shows that even though Kawhi is a more reserved and private player than Jimmy Buckets, he could be equally successful and respected just the same.
If Butler is a "'lilbit more crazy" compared to other NBA stars, it’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. It reflects the environment and culture he learned from when he was getting his feet wet in the NBA. Knowing Kyle Lowry and his Philly roots, he shouldn't have a problem with it.