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“Damn, we about to be dope” — Caron Butler’s heartbreaking Miami Heat departure

Caron Butler shared how excited he was that Shaquille O'Neal was coming to town, only to find out he was a part of the trade package that brought Shaq to Miami.
Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, Caron Butler

Shaquille O'Neal and Caron Butler

When the Miami Heat landed Shaquille O'Neal in the 2004 offseason, their players were likely thrilled to have the opportunity to be on the same team as the All-Star center. One of those who was pumped was Caron Butler.

"I'll never forget coming back from Antigua," Butler recalled during a recent episode of "All the Smoke" podcast. "I was doing a Basketball Without Borders camp or clinic for the Miami Heat. ... I'm walking through the airport, and they like, 'Shaquille O'Neal coming to the Miami Heat.' I was like, 'Damn, we about to be dope.'"

Short-lived excitement

Funnily enough, Butler's excitement was short-lived, as he realized he was part of the trade package that also included Lamar Odom and Brian Grant.

"I was like, 'Oh, sh*t, that's how this worked?'" Butler continued. "'I thought I was here forever. I just bought a crib. I can't sell my crib.' It was like all that emotional attachment. But that was just a crazy experience."

Unfortunately for the 6-foot-7 forward, he missed out on winning a title with the franchise that drafted him. O'Neal and Dwyane Wade led Miami to the championship in the 2006 Finals, with Wade emerging as a force to be reckoned with and O'Neal proving that he could play second fiddle to another star.

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Playing with Kobe

While Butler didn't get to play alongside "The Big Diesel," he was fortunate to play with Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant - even if for just one season. Right off the bat, he got to experience how intense Bryant was, which Butler credits as what helped him become an All-Star.

"I'll never forget Kobe signed a deal for $130-plus million," Butler shared. "I'm at the press conference, and it's actually a double press conference because they're introducing myself, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom to the city of Los Angeles, and then Kobe signing this deal. And I'll never forget looking at that money, and then the first thing, he turned to the right, said to me was, 'Get ready to f*ck the black out. Get ready to work out. Let's take that sh*t to another level.' I'm talking about the blackout sessions. The reason why I was an All-Star player, the reason why I'm in the coaching space is because my time that I spent with Kobe Bryant."

The 42-year-old had already gushed about the blackout workout in the past.

So, even though Butler can only imagine what it would have been like to run with arguably the most dominant big man of all time, he probably wouldn't exchange it for the experience of repping the Purple and Gold with the late Lakers legend.

Butler even knows that the late Bryant saw him not just as a teammate but also as a true friend. He was sure of it after Kobe agreed to participate in his book, "Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA."

Oh, and the two-time All-Star still got his ring, winning a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.

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