Jimmy Butler gets off to good start in Miami with newborn daughter, Heat win
MIAMI (AP) — A late-arriving baby. A delayed Miami debut. A lot of lost sleep.
Jimmy Butler's first official week with the Heat was certainly one he won't forget.
Getting the distinction of being the last Miami starter to be introduced — a role that Dwyane Wade held for the majority of his Heat tenure, the honor that typically goes to the player deemed to be the face of the franchise — Butler has finally gotten onto the court with his new team.
The debut went well: He scored 21 points, made his first four shots and the Heat defeated the Atlanta Hawks 112-97. And afterward, he was going home to his newborn daughter.
"All good things," Butler said. "We won. Obviously, I'm a father. But I'm blessed beyond measure. I get to play basketball with some incredible guys, for an incredible organization. Life is good right now."
The baby's name is Rylee — pronounced the same way that Heat President Pat Riley pronounces his last name. Mother and baby are both doing perfectly, Butler said.
"I know I can handle it," Butler said. "It's fun. Hell, I get to be a dad and I get to hoop."
Rylee, however, has no grasp yet on when the NBA season starts. She was due in mid-October. She didn't arrive until Oct. 23 — which was opening night for the Heat, and that meant her dad was going to have to wait a few days to get onto the floor.
And as the days of waiting went on and on, Butler started to suspect Rylee would pick opening night for her debut of sorts.
"I just had a feeling that God was going to show me what's truly important in life," Butler said.
The Heat more than held it down without him: They were 2-1 in the three games Butler watched from home to open the season.
When they arrived for work Tuesday, Butler was beyond energetic.
"He was running around in shootaround like it was a playoff game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Butler is going through all the new-dad issues: Jagged sleep cycle, juggling training time with family time, fussing over the new mom and new baby — all that happening while he was waiting to get his first Heat season underway.
Obviously, he has no complaints.
"I started looking a life different a long time ago, but I definitely look at it way differently now," Butler said. "I feel like every time I leave the house, every time I hop in the car, any time I do anything I'm like, 'Yo, I've got to make it home.' And I look forward to having that feeling for the rest of my life."