NBA Finals: Jimmy Butler honors Miami coach Spoelstra: 'I'm so grateful for him'


Posted at Sep 30 2020 11:40 AM

NBA Finals: Jimmy Butler honors Miami coach Spoelstra: 'I'm so grateful for him' 1
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra directs his team against the Boston Celtics as forward Jae Crowder (99) and forward Jimmy Butler (22) react during the first half of game three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.

Miami All-Star Jimmy Butler gave head coach Erik Spoelstra a touching tribute after the Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.

After the Heat's series-clinching 125-113 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Butler showed up at the team's hotel wearing a vintage Erik Spoelstra jersey.

Butler wore his coach's No. 30 uniform from his days at the University of Portland.

The player told reporters during Tuesday's media availability that Spoelstra thought the gesture was "comical."

"I've got quite a few jerseys tucked away in my room. It's just when is the right time to pull them out," said Butler, who put up 22 points and eight assists in Game 6.

"But Spo has been huge for me in my growth here as a player, as a leader, as a human being, so I'm grateful for him," he added.

A five-time All-Star, Butler found a home in Miami after ill-fated stints in Minnesota and Philadelphia. He signed with the team as a free agent ahead of the 2019 season, and his hard-nosed style and no-nonsense attitude fit seamlessly with the Heat's vaunted culture.

But Butler has also found ways to keep things light-hearted for Miami in their road to the NBA Finals, with gestures such as his tribute to Spoelstra.

"Just to keep it lighthearted and enjoy a win, knowing the most difficult part is ahead of us. I don't know, it was just a way to show my appreciation," he said.