In an episode of The Ringer's Winging It With Vince Carter podcast released Monday, Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler said he knew he could make it in the NBA once he saw Stephenson in the league:
Stephenson fired back on Twitter while also posting to his Instagram story (h/t Ballislife.com): "Lol it's a million ballers and you thinking about me really. 1 on 1 @jimmybutler don't ever call me out"
However, Butler did say that he thinks Stephenson is a "talented-ass player."
Stephenson, 29, played in the NBA through last season.
The Indiana Pacers selected him in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft, and he spent the first four seasons of his career there. He returned to Indiana late in the 2016-17 campaign and remained there for the 2017-18 season after brief stops with the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Stephenson played for the Los Angeles Lakers last season.
Overall, Stephenson averaged 8.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists across 508 regular-season games (199 starts).
Numbers aside, Stephenson built a reputation for stirring the pot. He famously irritated LeBron James with trash talk and even blowing in his ear before the two became teammates last year in L.A.
As for Butler, his offhand comment about Stephenson was far from his boldest claim Monday. The four-time All-Star held nothing back in an interview with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes:
"Motherf--kers act like I'm not a good basketball player. Like for real. Just think about that. Like I can't come in and make a huge difference. I'm not going to say 'carry a team' because nobody can do it by themselves and I mean that. I'm not putting it all on myself, but I know what I'm capable of. I know what I bring to any and all situations, and the group of guys that we have is the group of guys that I want to play with.
"When I look down the line and as we're talking about it as an organization on this roster, I know what these guys are capable of. These guys are built like me. We're one in the same and so they're only going to get better and they're not going to get complacent. This is me. I see myself in every one of these guys around this locker room."
This is Butler's first season in Miami. The Philadelphia 76ers sent him to the Heat in a four-team trade this offseason.
Stephenson signed a one-year deal in August to go to China, so there's plenty of time for him to find his way back into the NBA to spark an on-court feud with Butler.