Caron Butler has come a long way in his young 32 years.
From working at Burger King as a teen, to now owning a whopping set of six franchise stores throughout the United States. It's safe to say Caron is eating good. Butler has ushered in a lot of success in his life, overcoming 15 stints in jail as a youth to now coming in to a couple of 82's away from 15 years playing time in the NBA.
The man who goes by the Twitter handle @realtuffjuice has given thirsty teams the true grit from the Wild West to the Tougher East, with the genuine toughness that comes with a raw and real player. It seems the underrated Caron Butler is one of those players who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty doing the tough jobs no one else wants to, even if that results in less shine then some stars that may or may not deserve the limelight.
He could be a star for sure with his above-the-rim, clutch and perimeter play. He's a prototype darling, but in possessing the fundamentals on both ends of the floor, Butler would rather be a more complete team player, giving everything he's got with his wide skill set.
From scorching hot days in Miami, to a Laker trade that saw him form a nice three with Kobe and Lamar Odom, Butler has been at many great teams service.
He was worth more than Kwame Brown when he was traded to the Washington Wizards from the Lake Show (but then again the Lakers ended up getting Pau Gasol for Brown so perhaps it all works out), and he gave some capital worthy performances, initialling his time in D.C.
The number 3, aka "Tough Juice" formed another "grande trois" with Antwan Jamison and Gilbert Arenas under Eddie Jordan. Now after a deserved championship with Dallas (he was a good contributor although he was injured, missing the entire postseason) Caron is back in L.A. and at STAPLES, but just like Chris Paul, its not for the Lakers (like some purple and gold fans would have hoped) its for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Caron's huge 28 points in his current building/old floor against the Lakers in a recent loss this week shows this guy is a key player in this "Battle: Los Angeles" NBA script. It shows more than that he's still a big player who can put up the numbers, and one who can become another option for the scoring load.
It shows he knows how to play the Lakers...and more importantly Kobe on each end of the floor.
He really knows Kobe, the close friends and former teammates used to play side by side and one-on-one in practice. Butler really has got his practice in against the games greatest. This element could be crucial in the shift of power in Los Angeles, the Western Conference and the Association as a whole.
If these guys met in the playoffs, sure MVP talent Kobe would dominate like everyone else were the puppets and he was holding the strings, but over a seven game battle of Los Angeles, the defensive minded Butler would handle him and get his on the offensive end too.
As good as "the doberman" Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace are, the Lakers should never have traded Butler (who now can aggressively go toe-to-toe with all three in this heated L.A. rivalry), maybe that's why they lost the other fight in L.A. this offseason to sign him.
He's not just a defensive asset either. Offense should almost be taken at how underrated Caron's point play is. He is more than a slasher or a spotty shooter. He's a penetrator who should never be left open, we haven't even began to give an assist to his nice passing play too. No one should pass on this guy, he's all around.
This All-Star is an all-time guy and the player who once had the good nature and heart to surprise a 16-year-old D.C. boy at his birthday as per the kids parents' request, could really gift the Clippers with a great surprise too this calender year.
Don't cross him out or write him off. Right now after some early struggles coming back from injury and fitting in Broderick Turner of the LA Times reports that Caron is more comfortable in Clippernation. This should leave the rest of the NBA restless and uneasy.
The Clippers have gone from the laughing stock of the National Basketball Association, to one of Hollywood's greatest stories. Sure its been young man-child Blake Griffin and his dunking revolution that's opened everything up, and as everyone from top point Chris Paul and Championship MVP Chauncey Billups (unfortunately out for this campaign) has joined this monster talent on the lay-up line—things are looking up for this team, and are cleared for above-the-rim takeoff from LAX to all ports of basketball call in the United States.
Still, even with all this and the brute rim rocking strength of DeAndre Jordan and latest Clipper converter Kenyon Martin, there are few tougher or more resilient than Caron Butler. His newly established, at-home presence could be the X-Factor for these Clips in Los Angeles, like a Rasheed Wallace signing in Detroit (Chauncey knows) or clutching for Derek Fisher in Oklahoma (Kobe knows all too well).
With his all-around game spreading the floor and opening things up much like former Laker teammate and young Clipper Lamar Odom (again, Kobe knows all too well) who has now taken his place in Dallas, Butler can offer these L.A. Clippers whatever they want.
From a strong mental presence that will solidify the locker room and crumble opponents, Butler has the big time experience for this former small fries ball club.
Need an upgrade? Caron can guard an opponent's best player, all whilst finding his team's own and getting his if the time or play calls for it. That's the kind of team player he is. and with all his unselfishness the Clippers themselves now really do have a team.
As their missing piece is coming together, the puzzle is almost complete and what a picture this is. This supporting actor can help bring the awards to the other side of Hollywood. Sure its not time to say 'and the winner is', but this man and his script flipping Clippers are worth a nomination.
Now that's the gold.