Welp, it appears as though T.J. Warren and Jimmy Butler each got their money’s worth for their respective parts in Wednesday’s night brouhaha.
"You're f---ing trash."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 9, 2020
Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren got tangled up, and both players had a few words for each other pic.twitter.com/C0VCJuuEFW
Per the NBA, Warren has been fined $25,000 for engaging in an altercation and making an obscene gesture. If we’re counting (which, of course we are), that’s $10,000 less than what Butler received for also engaging in the same altercation and then proceeding to escalate the incident on social media. Additionally, the offensive foul committed by Butler which precipitated Warren’s ejection was upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 1.
Taken altogether, this means that petty clapping is worse than blowing a not-so-friendly kiss and, conversely, taking things online is more bad than flipping the bird.
Jimmy Butler blew TJ Warren a kiss after Warren was ejected pic.twitter.com/ePoWVLmzO7— ESPN (@espn) January 9, 2020
Got it? Ok, good.
Also recall that after the game Butler let us all know how he really feels about Warren, which, per the Miami Herald, included niceties such as “he’s not even in my (expletive) league,” “he’s soft” and “If I was their coach, I would never put him on me ever again.”
To Butler’s credit, the numbers indicate that he’s owned the match-up over the last two seasons, so there’s some accuracy in his very literal trash talk. However, he’s actually only scored eight points on 2-of-9 shooting with nearly as many turnovers (5) as assists (7) since Warren joined the Pacers, according to the NBA’s (admittedly flawed) match-up data. (As such, seeing as how Warren, a scorer, has only produced 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting when defended by Butler, it would probably be more accurate to say something like “He can’t score on me” — but, I digress).
Granted, those stats don’t account for the second-chance opportunities that Butler created for his teammates or his hard drives to the rim that serve to collapse the defense. Even so, it wasn’t as if Warren got completely roasted, either. Sure, Butler felt disrespected by what Warren said in the heat of the moment, but wouldn’t it be preferable to be checked by a “trash” defender? Or, at the very least, not worth the effort of baiting said “trash” defender into an ejection when your team’s up by **checks notes** 24 points !?!
Hmm...it seems like something more might be going on here.
For his part, Warren denied the existence of prior history with Butler.
“No, not at all,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “It threw me off, but I know in situations like that, guys want to win just like we want to win. So, it happens.”
Yes, yes, it does. But, this, again, is very...well...hmm.
Especially since, at that point winning was sort of a long-shot (to put it nicely), and if you roll back the film from the last meeting between these two teams on December 27 there appears to be some beef simmering.
With 2:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, Butler got Warren on his back coming off a pick and proceeded to drain a 19-foot jumper to put Miami ahead, 109-108.
On the ensuing possession, Warren went to work against Butler on the baseline and the pair, ahem, got tangled up.
At this point, Butler already had a technical foul from earlier in the game for arguing about a non-call on Warren, so there was incentive for him to exercise restraint. But look at that look he flashed in Warren’s direction! Yeah, something’s brewing.
About 30 seconds later, Butler appeared as though he was ready to physically implode when Warren tried, and failed, to crash the glass (a recurrent theme from this game, wouldn’t you know?). I mean, this reaction is pretty much the embodiment of the Arthur fist meme.
Last, but certainly not least, they both got heated, when their arms, yet again, got intertwined on this drive with 1:10 left to play. In the end, Warren fell to the floor like a rag doll and then had to be restrained by his teammates while Butler came unglued for being assessed an offensive foul on a key play.
Case in point, whatever your opinion of the calls or non-calls, these two were irritated with each other long before they started exchanging expletives on Wednesday.
The question is, will it carry over to March 20?
For that, go ahead and follow Jimmy’s lead and mark it on your calendar, because, once again, there’ll be history.