The Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs by the Celtics on Friday, but for Jimmy Butler, it was anything but a lost season.
Chicago showed a remarkable amount of fight by bouncing back from a disappointing start to earn a playoff spot, and went up 2-0 on the top-seeded Celtics before losing Rajon Rondo for the season with a thumb injury.
We caught up with Jimmy via email during the series for a brief Q&A, and he revealed what he learned from veterans like Rondo and Dwyane Wade in his first season with them as his Chicago Bulls teammates.
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FOX Sports: After barely missing the playoffs last year, you guys didn't know if you'd get in until the final game of the season. Were you feeling any additional personal pressure to make sure you made it in?
Jimmy Butler: I felt how I feel in any game, which is to play my hardest and do what I need to do to get this team where we want to be -- in the playoffs.
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FOX Sports: When Dwyane Wade missed time with his elbow injury, your game noticeably went up a level. How much of a mental challenge was it for you to step it up like that, especially so late in the season?
Jimmy Butler: It’s not so much a mental challenge as it is just adjusting as is needed on the floor when more space is created with Wade gone. It’s just a different configuration, and I play according to that.
Player dynamics changing and a playoff season potentially nearing means things change.
FOX Sports: Speaking of Wade, he was obviously a huge addition to the team. Rajon Rondo, as well. What's the biggest thing you learned from playing with such accomplished veterans this year?
Jimmy Butler: I’ve learned how to become a better leader from D-Wade with a large part of that being how to motivate your fellow players. Rondo has shown himself to be a good teammate by always cheering guys on and being positive no matter what is happening, and that’s been a good thing to watch.
FOX Sports: Alright, you know I've got to ask you about sneakers. I know you're a Jordan guy. What's your take on the Ultra Fly 2? I thought it was interesting, because it was clearly inspired by the Jordan 15, which isn't necessarily viewed as everybody's favorite retro.
Jimmy Butler: I love the Ultra Fly 2, and think there is always something good to take from everything. In this case it was from the Jordan 15, and they got it right.