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It’s 3 a.m. and Jimmy Butler must be shooting

We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.

Miami Heat Media Day Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jimmy Butler is, above all else, a grinder. This is why he got along so well with Tom Thibodeau: Butler wants to play every minute and take every rep of practice. He doesn’t take the easy route. He works hard.

He works so hard, and loves people knowing how hard he works, that he told reporters he showed up at 3:30 a.m. for the Miami Heat’s 10 a.m. first practice on Tuesday. This is some glorious performative work, just below the level of Kobe Bryant forcing arena employees in Miami to keep the gym open after the Lakers got their peas mashed by LeBron’s Heat so he could work out after the game.

It matters who Jimmy is performing that act of hard work for. If it’s for the public — for us, for fans — it’s a waste of time. We already know Jimmy Butler works extremely hard. No one thinks otherwise. Most common performative hard workers are doing it for bosses and colleagues. It depends on the work culture on whether it’s good or not. (It’s usually not.) If he’s performing for his teammates, then it’s a (mostly) unmitigated good. (The “mostly” is there in case this turns into a thing where he looks down upon teammates unwilling to get up at 3 a.m. to practice before practice.) Butler’s is the highest paid Heatian, so for him to be the hardest working Heatian is pretty great.

And it’s having it’s desired affect: Meyers Leonard and Bam Adebayo joined Jimmy in the wee hours on Wednesday. This is not sustainable in any way, but this is a positive team culture. You can make fun of Jimmy for working hard, but you can’t claim it’s hurting the Heat’s team culture. The proof is right there.

Elena Delle Don’t Do This To Us, Basketball Gods

Elena Delle Donne is dealing with a small disc herniation ... in the middle of the WNBA Finals. Game 3 is Sunday in Connecticut. The Mystics will have an update on Delle Donne’s status on Saturday.

Matt Ellentuck explains why this is so particularly cruel to Delle Donne and the Mystics.

This whole “MVPs getting hurt in the Finals” thing is a trend I would like to see disappear from professional American basketball, please.

Links

This Sports Illustrated news is absolutely gutting. Beware the vultures, always.

Mike Prada with a major look at what Donovan Mitchell needs to become a legitimate superstar.

Michael Pina on Deandre Ayton’s path to being a Suns savior or an overlooked No. 1 pick.

What a great read from the New York Times’ Sopan Deb on Vivek Ranadive’s vision for the Kings and NBA. Also, can the NBA find a superstar in India?

Puma signed Kyle Kuzma. He can make Puma cooler by being himself, writes Ricky O’Donnell.

I wrote about the Timberwolves’ return to irrelevancy and the man responsible for the pattern of descent repeating itself.

Sounds like the Spurs are talking to DeMar DeRozan about a contract extension.

An oral history of Detroit’s marvelously hideous/hideously marvelous teal uniforms.

Players to believe in this season.

I think these Nets’ graffiti jerseys are good? Might be one of those where you need to see them in their natural environment (on players in a game on my phone) to truly decide.

In praise of Alyssa Thomas of the Sun.

On the promise and fear of transition in Dallas.

Nice piece on BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson fighting for a roster spot in Detroit.

Ramona Shelburne on how the Sparks fell apart, starring a brutal tirade by their general manager.

Really smart story idea from Paolo Uggetti: spending time in the Los Angeles Paul George and Kawhi Leonard grew up in.

And finally: crowds love James Harden’s flamingo shot even if the basket doesn’t actually seem to enjoy it much.

See you Monday. Be excellent to each other.