Yes, Jimmy Butler actually is on the Bulls' bench.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) May 8, 2013
Maybe you were expecting to hear that LeBron James had agreed to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, or that Derrick Rose had decided he wanted to play so badly that he hit the court in his suit and tie.
But for anyone following the Bulls over the past few months (and particularly during the postseason), Butler's unexpected walk to the bench was probably just as surprising.
As coach Tom Thibodeau increasingly recognized Butler's value as a defensive stopper and efficient scorer during the season, the swingman's minutes increased with every passing month. After logging 16 minutes per game in November, Butler's average jumped to 20.3 in December. He played 26.3 minutes per game in January, 26.2 in February and then 30.7 in March.
The big spike came in April, when Butler tallied 42.3 minutes per game.
He didn't ask for a rest, but based on the load he's shouldered thus far—especially after Luol Deng went down with complications from a spinal tap—Butler earned it. After all, he'd been on the court for quite a while.
Jimmy Butler just checked out of a playoff game for the first time since GAME 5 VS THE NETS. He played 160:41 straight minutes.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) May 8, 2013
And the surprise of his in-game breather probably hit Butler just as hard as anyone. He probably forgot that sitting down during a game was even allowed.
"Jimmy, you're coming out of the game." - Thibodeau. "What? Did I get ejected?" - Jimmy Butler— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) May 8, 2013
Based on the matchup changes that occurred upon his departure from the game, it was obvious why he hadn't missed any court time during Game 1.
With Jimmy Butler resting, Daequan Cook guards LeBron. Oy.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 8, 2013
Twitter probably isn't the best place for medical diagnoses (or spelling), but plenty of folks chimed in on Butler's condition as he rode the pine for the first time in days. The analysis ranged from "inquisitive" to "macabre."
If you're Jimmy Butler, are your muscles atrophing right now?— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 8, 2013
BREAKING: Jimmy Butler has died. He passed moments after sitting on the bench. His last words were “finally, I can rest.”— netw3rk (@netw3rk) May 8, 2013
Hopefully, Butler enjoyed his rest. Sine the Heat increased their lead from five points to nine points in the few minutes that he sat, it's unlikely he'll be visiting the bench again anytime soon.