Heat's Jimmy Butler to Stephen A. Smith: 'You and Everybody Else Have Slept on Me'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 17: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter in Game One of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler believes he has been overlooked and seems to be making a point of dominating on the biggest stages during these playoffs.

Following Miami's 118-107 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported Butler texted him after the second-round win over the Philadelphia 76ers and said, "You and everybody else have slept on me."

Butler's resume features six All-Star nods, five All-Defensive selections, four All-NBA selections and the 2014-15 Most Improved Player award, but he is right to say he has never been in the media discussion of the very best players in the league.

ESPN ranked its top 100 players at the start of the season and placed him 16th.

That is an impressive position for any player, but he also surely didn't generate much consideration to be placed ahead of names such as LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry or Luka Doncic.

It's also hard to argue that Butler should be ranked ahead of those players, but being outside the top 10 on that list and others seems to be a motivating factor for the two-way star who has led the Heat to two of the last three Eastern Conference Finals.

Butler has been brilliant in the postseason and averaged 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game in the first-round win over the Atlanta Hawks and 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game in the win over the 76ers.

He impressed again in Game 1 against Boston with 41 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks while putting his team on his back for extended stretches and outplaying Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

If Butler continues to play at such a level and wins his first championship, he may just be on the top 10 of various lists ahead of next season.