Caron Butler Talks NBA Restart, Kobe Bryant Relationship, More in B/R AMA

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19: Caron Butler #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers greets fans before playing against the Washington Wizards at Staples Center on January 19, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Caron Butler spent 14 seasons in the NBA with nine different teams and played alongside some of the best players of his era, including Kobe Bryant

Butler took time out from his schedule on Monday to sit down for a B/R AMA to answer fan questions on a wide range of topics, including the upcoming NBA season restart, his relationship with Bryant and much more. 

The following is the full transcript from the AMA session.   

@therealGM: If you were an NBA player today, would you be willing to play in the bubble?

I would be willing to play in the bubble, but I can understand why a lot of people are questioning the fact that with the state of America, I can understand that position as well. If I was playing on a platform in the bubble, every question from the media would be about social inequality and basketball would come second regarding stuff about the game itself.


@yaakgma: Favorite moment with Kobe Bryant?

I will never forget our last real conversation probably 2 weeks prior to his incident. We talked about our second acts, families. Kobe always challenged me to be the best version of me. I got news that I wasn't able to share and he was like 'now what.' He was a tremendous asset to my life and kept me thinking about the goal and the mission. I miss him dearly.


@js: Given the NBA's international platform, are there any specific actions you would like to see the league take to move the ball forward on social injustice, specifically in America?

Keep the discussion going. In the midst of not having live entertainment, this is a time for us to move the needle on social injustice and racism and all the things that need to be talked about. It took over 440 years to get to this point of unaddressed trauma. It's gonna take hundreds of more years to get out of this point. But, I'm glad the talk is being stirred more now.


@StayCoCool: Who is the NBA GOAT?

It depends. Just based off stats, Kareem. His longevity is impressive. After that, you shift to LeBron, Kobe, MJ, guys of that stature.


@pfig89: Who are your all-time starting 5 that went to UConn?

Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Myself, Khalid El-Amin


@Herb42: Who was the funniest teammate you ever played with?

Gilbert Arenas. I would call him the Dave Chappelle of edgy comedians. He always had something up his sleeve.


@Steve_Perrault: How often do you get asked about the Arenas locker room incident and how scary was it?

I get asked about it all the time. It's a part of our history, the pros and cons of what to do and not to do. It helped us all grow. Gilbert is my brother. I pivoted away from talking about it because he's my friend, I would never want it to impact him negatively. I've always seen him in a different light since that.


@GC215: How did it feel to win a championship? Favorite memory from that Mavs playoff run?

When we beat OKC. To me, I felt like this was the hardest team to overcome and I felt like we would win after we beat them. The Lakers didn't seem as dangerous that year, we beat them and we beat Portland. OKC didn't know any better because they were too young. I really felt like our percentages were high because I didn't think Miami had it figured out yet. I remember Brendan Haywood looking at me like: We gotta get one before they could figure it out because LeBron and Wade didn't know who was Batman and who was Robin.


@yaakgma: Who do you think has the best handles of all time?

That is a great question. Kyrie, Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Pistol Pete, Jason Williams, and Rafer Alston was a yo-yo. 


@Qu1ncy: Best UConn moment?

The Big East title. I was battling the loss of my cousin. My mom gave me the strength to win it. It just gave me some sort of therapy going forward being able to raise that MVP trophy of the tourney.


@RewindThatTape: What was your most memorable Dirk moment?

2011, Game 6, he hit this shot over Chris Bosh and that basically sealed the deal. He was so overwhelmed with emotions, he promised me he was going to help win it for me. True leader, true star, one of the all-time greats.


@ArkansasBoys: Hardest player for you to guard in your career?

Hands down Kobe Bryant. He was just a guy who could operate in a phone booth. He would put you on an island and just get buckets. He could score from anywhere, he could go left, he had counters, he could give it to you all. T-Mac also had an impressive offensive arsenal. No way you can guard him either.


@Jalen_H7: Who is your favorite player in the NBA right now?

I love watching James Harden. It's amazing to see him dominate no matter what consistently. LeBron's longevity, his speed, quickness is impressive to watch. KD, since he's been injured we've been cheated from his greatness, but he'll be back. Russ plays with a super impressive motor. Giannis and Steph Curry, I just love watching them. Giannis has potential beyond belief and Steph has redefined the league. Kawhi Leonard is also same mentality, gonna come, dominate, leave and do the same all over again.


@therealGM: Toughest place to play as a visitor in the old Big East?

Notre Dame was crazy and Miami. Miami is hard to play in because the night life and social scene makes it hard to play with energy after all that. I always felt like we had the toughest home environment.


@The_Senate: What was Dirk's reaction to being disrespected by the Heat for his illness in 2011?

I talked about this, you saw a different disposition out of Dirk. Up to that point, everyone was dialed in. Nobody ever talks about how sick Dirk was. I didn't think he would play in some of the Finals. I felt like he was reenergized and refocused once that clip came out. We saw a different Dirk from that point on. He was a leader and the stats proved it.


@just_in_time: Any good Pat Riley stories you can share from being drafted by Miami?

Pat Riley used to sit me in his office after a career high night and break down everything. Just when I thought I was on my way, he would tear me down. He would always show me what's next and there are more areas to learn and improve. Pat taught me that and Kobe showed me that.


@BaySean: What's the best single game performance you've ever seen live while playing?

Gilbert Arenas had 60 in the Staples Center. We didn't even know at the time, but he was just clicking. He was doing everything and it was unbelievable to watch. Outside of that, Kobe's last game when he had 60 was crazy.


@yaakgma: One player to dunk on who would it be?

I got Yao Ming. I climbed The Great Wall, but I always wanted to get Shaq. I tried to dunk on him and it felt like running into a brick wall because he fouled me. He didn't let you dunk on him.


@AMcGee15: Craziest childhood story?

As a youngster, getting introduced to basketball. I'll never forget my uncle took me to play pickup basketball at the rec center. You had to figure out how to insert yourself to get on the court. I was on the sidelines showing off my handles and after around 8 games, someone finally picked me up and from then on, I ended up being better than everyone else, so from that point I had earned my place.


@boogie79bx: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Outside of MJ, Magic Johnson. I had a chance to interview him and talk to him about everything and it meant so much to me. Kobe too, guys like that made such seamless transitions out of basketball. As a human, your legacy is truly about what you did for mankind. All of those individuals helped influence things outside the game.


@BVBfangk: What's your favorite shoe?

I had two shoes that I really liked. I liked the Nike Foamposites. I was in D.C. and for those who don't know the Penny's and the Foamposites are the highest sought after shoes in that whole area. I had a signature shoe for probably 8 years of my career. That was my signature shoe while I was in D.C., they always mixed it with the Foamposites. That was the most comfortable shoe I had. It had grip, it was super comfortable.


@Wildcat729: Any advice for high school ballers?

Develop a knack for consistency on and off the court. Know how to play all positions and focus on the fundamentals of the game. Be willing to learn and if you do those things, you'll be the best version of you. That gives you the best opportunity to pursuing an NBA career.


@ChickfilAisbetta: Chick-fil-A or Popeyes?

Popeyes because they open on Sunday. When they came with that sandwich, that changed the game for them!


Universal AMA Questions

What is your favorite game or play of your career?

Anytime I came home to Milwaukee. I always had 200 or 300 people in the crowd. It was always special to put on for my city. It was always monumental to go home and show out. I've never been caught up by crowds. It helped my emotions even more because I was more excited to be in the city.


Go-to pregame song or soundtrack?

2-Pac or Jay-Z. I would listen to James Brown to change things up sometimes too. James Brown is the most sampled artist ever. His stuff lives on so much of the current hip hop landscape. He's an all-time great.


How far do you think the moon is from Earth?

Thousands of miles away. I didn't want to give an answer like my boy Kyrie. I don't know what he would say at this moment.


The resume Butler built for himself in college at Connecticut and in the NBA is substantive. He was named co-Big East Player of the Year in 2001-02, played in back-to-back NBA All-Star Games in 2007 and 2008 and won an NBA championship as a member of the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks. 

Since playing his last NBA game in 2016, Butler has worked as a television analyst for ESPN and FS1. He currently works for NBC Sports Washington as part of the Washington Wizards broadcast crew.