We appreciate your humility, Jimmy Butler.
The Chicago Bulls shooting guard has been off to a torrid start during the 2014-15 season, leaving no doubt he's one of the future standouts at his particular position. Of course, he's already been an exemplary contributor throughout the opening salvo of the campaign, lending credibility to anyone who would like to call him a star.
Based on his numbers—21.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game with a 22.6 player efficiency rating, per Basketball-Reference.com—I'd feel perfectly comfortable bestowing that classification upon him. Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau feels the same way, as he told ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell:
He's been incredible. He's a star, and he does it on both ends of the floor. He's just an amazing player. We've had him play the point, we've had him play the 2, the 3, and tonight he played the 4. And he hasn't had any opportunity to practice the 4. So he just got out there, he's smart, he's tough, he does whatever the team needs, and he found a way to help lead us into coming back and having a shot at the end.
But Butler, coming off a game in which he scored a career-high 32 points on only 13 shots from the field, won't have any of it.
"I'm not a star," the 2-guard explained to Friedell. "I'm a good role player on a really, really good team. A really, really deep team. I like role players. 'Star' has never been next to Jimmy Butler's name, it never will be. I'll always be just an under-the-radar dog."
This is not the time for modesty, Jimmy.
It makes sense, given the incredible backstory that would force cockiness to the backburners for even the most hubristic of rising stars. Friedell details what's driven him in a separate article—which contains the previous quote—and it's very much worth reading Butler's story in its entirety:
The odds have always been against Butler. His path to the NBA is as unlikely as anyone who plays in the league given that his backstory (of being homeless at 13 before moving in with a friend's family) reads like the basketball version of 'The Blind Side.' No matter how many ups and downs Butler endured in his journey to the precipice of NBA stardom, the 25-year-old never stopped believing in himself. The same drive that helped get him out of Tomball, Texas, and into Marquette University is the same fuel that's pushed him to average over 20 points a game early this season.
No matter how high Butler's stardom grows it doesn't appear that he will ever lose the gigantic chip that resides on his shoulder. Like many great athletes, Butler is driven, in large part, by the opportunity to prove people wrong. He likes when the odds are high because that's the way it's been for him all his life. He doesn't know any differently.
Nevertheless, this is when he's supposed to be beating his chest and tooting his own proverbial horn. He's outplayed every shooting guard in the league, save James Harden and Klay Thompson, leaving no doubt that he's a strong, strong All-Star candidate. He plays ferocious defense, and he's made an unbelievable amount of progress on the offensive end of the court.
But I suppose we can cave here.
Sure, Butler can be a role player, as he desires so desperately. He definitely fills a role for the Bulls. That role just involves functioning as a star, even if the Marquette product insists on disavowing himself of that title.
If nothing else, he'll realize just how celestial his status has become when it's time to sign a new contract with the Bulls during the 2015 offseason.