Tom Thibodeau will always beat Jimmy Butler in this race.
This season, Jimmy Butler will be reunited with the first coach of his NBA career, Tom Thibodeau.
The duo was in Chicago from 2011 to 2015, and in their last season together, Butler was named the NBA's Most Improved Player.
It's safe to assume that Thibodeau's teaching and a strong work ethic from Butler led to him getting this honor in the same season he earned his first of three career All-Star nods. However, by practicing with Thibodeau, Butler learned there is one thing that he cannot accomplish no matter how much work he puts in: Thibodeau will always be the first person to practice.
In his latest feature on the new Timberwolves guard, Lee Jenkins writes about how Butler discovered he couldn't beat Thibodeau to the practice facility.
Here was a rookie Thibodeau could appreciate, and a coach Butler could respect. He challenged himself to get to the team’s facility before Thibodeau. “I pull up at 6 a.m.—‘I’m gonna beat his ass today!’—and I see that damn black Range Rover parked out front. Next morning I get there at 5:45—‘I’m definitely gonna beat his ass today!’—and there it is again. Then late at night I come back to shoot with Luol, and it’s still parked in that same spot. It’s like, ‘O.K., forget it, I can’t beat the guy. So I’m just gonna run through a wall for this motherf-----.’ ” From 2013 through ’15, Butler averaged the most minutes per game in the NBA, and he could not complain. “Hey, you asked to play,” Thibodeau reminded him at the first trace of fatigue. “So you’ll play 48 minutes.” Butler beamed.
Now that the two are back together in Minnesota, it's fair to wonder which is more likely to happen: Butler beats Thibodeau to practice, or Thibodeau doesn't play Butler more minutes per game than any other player in the league?