Outside of Fergie’s cringeworthy national anthem, the only mild controversy resulting from Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game was Minnesota Timberwolves wing Jimmy Butler’s decision not to play in the game.
“Rest. I have to rest,” Butler told reporters after the game, according to our own Dan Devine. “I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”
To which Los Angeles Clippers guard — and Western Conference All-Star in waiting — Lou Williams responded:
Williams, along with Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul, would have been on the short list of players likely to replace Butler had asked out of the game for health reasons rather than dressing for the game and choosing not to play. Williams is averaging a career-high 23.2 points per game.
Any bitterness from Williams — a 13-year veteran and former Sixth Man of the Year who has never made an All-Star roster — would be understandable. Butler leads the league in minutes per game (37.3) and played 41 in a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers entering the All-Star break. That he took up a roster spot without so much as playing a handful of minutes, as San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge did, would be infuriating for any player who would love to be in Butler’s position.
Still, Butler earned his spot, and it’s difficult to know what his intent was entering the weekend.
“He was tired and he just felt his legs weren’t there,” Mike D’Antoni, who coached Butler’s Team Stephen in the All-Star Game, said in his postgame press conference. “He didn’t practice yesterday or play today. You have to respect that. He plays hard. Sometimes your body just needs a rest.”
Butler missed four games late last month with sore right knee.
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