Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat Have the Boston Celtics on the Ropes

“He loves to win,” said Mike Marquis, who was his coach at Tyler Junior College, a two-year school about 100 miles southeast of Dallas. “Some people hate to lose. He absolutely loves to win. I think sometimes there’s a negative connotation with hating to lose, with bad sportsmanship and all that. But when I coached him, he didn’t have any of that — he just loved to win.”

Butler, who had a difficult childhood, was not highly recruited coming out of Tomball High School in Texas. He had a scholarship offer from Centenary, a small college in Louisiana that has since transitioned to Division III, and a partial offer from Quinnipiac. But Tyler, Butler said, was where he felt wanted.

Joe Fulce, a teammate of his at Tyler and later at Marquette, recalled that Butler had an uncanny ability to “curate his own world” whenever he played basketball. Outside the gym, there were problems and challenges. Inside the gym, the many distractions of his daily life somehow ceased to exist.

“That’s hard as hell to do,” Fulce said. “It’s almost like he was a magician.”

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