Butler says Kobe most unforgettable player, picks Houston to win west
Caron Butler could only smile as he looked back on his 14-year NBA career.
But across the nine teams he played for in that stretch, there’s only one guy who stood out for the now-37-year-old.
“I think the guy that jumps out of the screen is Kobe Bryant,” he said on Thursday during the media availability at NBA Store at Trinoma.
“He’s the second-best player to play the game of basketball, next to Michael Jordan. He’s one of the guys that taught me a lot about he game of basketball, enhanced my skillset, and I learned a lot from him about consistency and work ethic. I tip my hat to him.”
Butler may have only spent a season with Bryant in Los Angeles, but he had a fruitful run with the
Lakers, averaging 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals in the 2004-2005 season.
Though he was traded after the season to Washington, that was enough for the 6-foot-7 forward to sign a 5-year, $46-million deal with the Wizards as he, Gilbert Arenas, and Antawn Jamison formed the team’s “Big Three,” with Butler providing the toughness that earned him the nickname, “Tough Juice.”
Looking at today’s NBA, Butler is glad to see that most of the superstars exemplify the same grit he had back in his heyday.
“Russell Westbrook is relentless, aggressive, and he plays at an unbelievable pace. Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, and Kevin Durant are also some who have that ‘tough juice.’ Lebron James shows no signs of slowing down. There’s a lot of amazing talent in the league right now and I could go on forever,” he said.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, too, that these are the guys who Butler believes are capable of winning the Most Valuable Player award this year.
“Lebron, KD, and Harden are my safe bets. If we’re gonna go out of the box, it’s Kyrie Irving and John Wall. But my wild card off the left field, it’s Blake Griffin,” he said.
Though much of Butler’s prediction coincides with the mainstream opinion, the Racine, Wisconsin native, though, offered one wild guess.
“Houston’s gonna win the Western Conference,” he said.
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