Miami – Jimmy Butler is the Miami Heat’s captain and MVP, as well as, apparently, the team’s resident football guru.
Even with the loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, there’s still some good news for Butler, and it’s a reason, if not for joy, to smile and be grateful.
Lionel Messi is coming to town.
“A lot of good,” Butler said Thursday when asked what it meant for Messi to join Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. “Obviously, he’s one of the greatest players who played that beautiful game. I’m really excited for Miami, to be able to get a player of this caliber here.
“Now that he’s here, I think all football/soccer fans from all over the world will come here and get a chance to watch him compete. I’m glad he’s here.”
This is a special time in Miami sports. The Heat are in their seventh NBA Finals, and although they trail the Denver Nuggets 2-1 in the series, game four will be on Friday in Miami. “I expect to win,” Butler said.
The Florida Panthers are in the Stanley Cup Finals, and although they’re trailing the Las Vegas Knights 2-0, Game 3 of that series will be on Thursday in nearby Sunrise, Fla.
Then there is the 35-year-old Argentine Messi, who is considered one of the greatest soccer players to ever walk the face of the earth, and chose to continue his career in the United States, in Miami.
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Butler, 33, who is in his second final with the team, said he had met Messi before.
Am I going to contact (Messi)? Butler said. “I know he probably got a lot going for him anyway. He’s coming here to do something special for this city. I will not communicate. I’m glad he’s here. I really.
“I know we’ll hook up whenever he’s here.”
As is often the case when one professional team in a city—let alone two—reach a championship contest, the players and coaches of all the teams in the city are in league with one another.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed that he had been messaging with Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, who was a mainstay in the Miami playoffs.
“It was fun developing a relationship with him,” Spoelstra said. “We were lucky enough to be able to spend the whole afternoon during training camp, seeing how they work. Then in the afternoon we just finished talking about the shop. That’s fun.
“We share very similar ideas about finding strength in adversity and using it as lessons to help you grow.”
What would be more fun for South Florida – if the Heat tied the Finals at 2-2 before the series returns to Denver for Game 5 on Monday.
“I’m excited about the city of Miami in so many different ways,” said Butler. “Obviously we’re in the finals and we have a chance to do something special.”
(Photo: Xavier Laine/Getty Images)