It took less than two months in Philadelphia for Jimmy Butler to flip from Captain Camaraderie into, well, Jimmy Butler. For those of you who had the under, congrats.
According to a January 5 ESPN report, Butler in recent weeks has "aggressively challenged" Sixers head coach Brett Brown about his role within the team's offense. Butler's frustrations boiled to the surface during a recent team film session. A witness described Butler's outburst as "disrespectful."
Butler, unsurprisingly, disputed the framing of the report Monday.
"I don't think any part of it was confrontational," he told reporters. "We're in here, talking, trying to win games, making sure everybody's happy. Confrontation? That's not the word I would use."
Brown, speaking to reporters on Saturday, took a similar stance, downplaying both the report and the incident. "I didn't feel like any of that crossed the line," he said. "He's vocal. He's all in and he has opinions, but it's instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He's got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard."
It is worth noting that by now Brown has mastered the art of serving as a human shield. He's played that role for, among others, Sam Hinkie, Bryan Colangelo, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. It's not to say that he lies. Let's call it an adept understanding of how to handle the press during times of conflict. Brown will confirm the negative report—but then attempt to reframe it in a positive light.