The beef between Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns has played out in the open since the two were teammates for a little more than one season together on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler helped the Wolves end their 14-year playoff drought in 2018 during his only full season with the team, but things quickly turned sour between the two superstars.
Butler requested a trade ahead of the 2018-2019 season, and then held out of training camp. When he finally showed up to work, Butler famously berated everyone at practice and reportedly led the bench to a win over the starters during a scrimmage. Butler then gave a sit-down interview with Rachel Nichols where he blasted Towns and fellow Wolves youngster Andrew Wiggins. A few weeks later, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
If you thought time had healed the bad blood between Butler and Towns, well, apparently not. As the Miami Heat faced the Wolves on Friday night, Butler started talking trash to Towns at the end of the game. It got ugly pretty quick.
As microphones picked up the conversation, Butler called Towns “a loser.” He said “I already punked you once.” Butler also said Towns was “soft as baby sh*t.” Towns appeared to tell Butler to “call Rachel Nichols” as a response.
Towns was asked about the incident in the post-game media availability, but rookie Anthony Edwards jumped in and answered the question for him. Edwards called it a “regular conversation” and said “there’s no competition if you’re not talking sh*t to each other.”
Tonight on the Anthony Edwards Show...— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) May 8, 2021
Ant narrating the Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler "grown-ass man conversation" and his thoughts on "The Zebras" role in the game. pic.twitter.com/3qIYGn3xHM
Look at the rookie Edwards already being a leader by sticking up for his teammate.
The back-and-forth between Towns and Butler got even more attention than it would have because Towns has had an unbelievably difficult year off the court in his personal life.
Both of Towns’ parents caught Covid early in the pandemic, and it tragically took the life of his mother Jackie. Towns said that he lost seven family members to Covid. Towns then caught Covid himself and detailed his “scary nights” with the virus before eventually beating it. The fact that Towns is playing this season at all — for one of the worst teams in the league, no less — is absolutely remarkable and shows how tough he is.
Butler’s practice tirade has unfortunately given Towns a reputation as “soft,” and Butler isn’t backing down from it years later. Obviously these two dudes don’t like each other very much, but couldn’t Butler chill out a little bit at the end of a game his team was going to win? Yes, the Heat are good and the Wolves are terrible, this is not exactly breaking news. The game was already in hand. It just seems unnecessary for Butler to be such a jerk, especially after everything Towns has gone through recently.
For a different perspective, here’s the always insightful Nate Jones, who knows what makes NBA players tick much better than I do.
You can’t hold the year KAT is having off the court against Jimmy. When you step on the court it’s about competition. Can’t imagine what KAT has gone through in his personal life. But between those, lines it’s dog eat dog. And I’m sure KAT doesn’t want kid gloves treatment either— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) May 8, 2021
Towns might not be a great defensive center, but he’s clearly not “soft” given everything he’s come back from to play games for the Wolves this year. This entire exchange is just ugly.
Butler is having another absolutely fantastic season. He’ll have bigger battles to fight in the playoffs against teams that are not the Timberwolves. Butler became a legend forever by carrying the Heat to the Finals last year — no one is going to debate his greatness. For whatever reason, he still can’t let go of his beef with KAT.