Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler has never worried about what people expect of him. He blasts country music in the Heat locker room, irritating most of his NBA teammates. He started his own coffee company in the pandemic era, initially charging $20 per cup, for small and medium sizes. and big. He is also a fierce competitor and on Monday promised that he would lead the Heat back to the NBA Finals this season.
“This time we’re going to win,” he said, “and then everyone will say we were lucky.”
Butler, 34, made the bold statement while sitting on a stand at the team’s media day, an annual rite of passage before the start of training camp in which players speak to reporters. But nothing he said seemed to matter as much as what he was wearing: he appeared to have pierced his eyebrow, lip, and nose, and his hair was pulled back into a sleek bang vaguely reminiscent of “Hey Ya!” by André 3000. hairstyle.
Butler, however, seemed to have found inspiration in a different musical genre.
“I’m emo,” Mr. Butler said with a fake look as he brushed his bangs across his forehead. “This is my emotional state. “I am one with my emotions, so this is what you get.”
To be clear: It was not Mr. Butler’s usual look nor one that anyone expected him to stay once the cameras went off. In fact, before the start of last season, he appeared with dreadlocks, which he claimed at the time were his real hair. (They weren’t.) Butler typically has her hair braided or styled in a faded afro.
In other words, Mr. Butler likes to be a provocateur. And he seemed to recognize it Monday during a photo session with his teammate Bam Adebayo, who was baffled by Mr. Butler’s facial equipment.
“That whole lip ring is annoying,” Adebayo told him.
“Look,” Mr. Butler said, “I have to stay in character.”
Intentionally or not, Butler’s appearance helped distract from questions about the team’s quiet offseason. In addition to losing two key players in free agency (Gabe Vincent and Max Strus), Miami was unable to close a deal for Damian Lillard, a superstar point guard the Heat had coveted.
It is probably worth noting that Mr Butler was not pleased with that turn of events. After all, Lillard had reportedly expressed his desire to land in Miami. But after the Portland Trail Blazers traded Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, Butler suggested on Instagram that the NBA should “investigate the Bucks for tampering.” (Manipulation refers to inappropriate negotiations between players, coaches or team executives.)
Butler’s self-described emo appearance may or may not have had something to do with his feelings about the Lillard situation. With Mr. Butler it is impossible to know. Because here’s the thing: not even his teammates know.
“If this is a phase he’s going through at 34 years old, you have to let him go through his phases,” Adebayo said. “We all go through our emo phases.”
Butler, a six-time NBA All-Star, is as talented as he is inscrutable. He values his privacy. He rarely talks about his personal life (in an interview with Rolling Stone he dismissed rumors that he is dating pop star Shakira), although he does offer glimpses. On Monday, for example, he talked about his friendship with Irish musician Dermot Kennedy (“That’s my brother through and through,” Butler said) and how much he enjoyed visiting China this summer as part of a tour promoting the Brand. china Li-Ning sneakers.
“I was able to sing karaoke a lot, which means a lot to me,” she said, “because I don’t get to do it often here.”
He also expressed optimism about the upcoming season. Last season, the Heat, who had barely made the playoffs, generated surprise after surprise before losing to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.
“For me it’s always been about a championship,” Butler said. “For me it will always be that, nothing more. And it’s just our year. This is the one. And this one, by the way, will feel very good.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Butler arrived at the team’s first official practice of the season with his hair in braids. But fear not: Mr. Butler posed as #EmoJimmy in his official photo of the season, which means that glorious hair will soon appear in a Jumbotron arena near you.