Lakers legend Magic Johnson has drawn parallels between the way himself and Jimmy Butler display leadership amid the Heat’s title chase.
Their similar qualities probably have to do with the fact that Pat Riley was involved in both Magic’s Showtime Lakers as coach and Jimmy’s current Heat team as president.
Despite appearing quite smug at times, Butler has somewhat downplayed his achievements on the way to the Finals and Johnson explains that this is something Riley has come to expect of his senior players.
“Team first,” Johnson told USA Today. “Winning first. Making your teammates first. All those things were first for me and first for (Butler).
“That’s why the Heat are in the NBA Finals, and so Jimmy has lifted the play of all his teammates around him. He’s made them better. And because he’s the hardest worker on the team, those guys follow that. He’s tough as nails, so they follow that.”
During his time as coach of the Lakers, Riley was able to win five NBA championships alongside Johnson with his win-or-die attitude and leadership.
“They knew I was all about winning,” Johnson said. “I didn’t care how many points I scored. I didn’t care how many shots I took. I just wanted to win. … So that’s how we are alike. And then we could take the game over when we wanted to take it over when it was winning time.”
Both Johnson and Butler have a great admiration and respect for a man who has been part of 25 percent of all NBA Finals in history. An almost unfathomable stat.
“Not only was he my coach but now one of my best friends,” Johnson said.
While Butler has said in the past, “That’s the Godfather, man, that’s the OG. A huge reason why I’m here, obviously.”