Stop dithering. Admit it.
There's a new sheriff in town, and you like it.
He's brash and he's gruff and he says what's on his mind. He likes country music and cowboy boots and he hates — hates — pussyfooting around.
He'll fit right in, with the town and with the team.
Jimmy Butler rides into Philadelphia the most Philly athlete the town has seen since Chase Utley rode out. He might hurt Joel Embiid's feelings, and he might bruise Ben Simmons' ego, but Butler won't care. He's 29, and he's wasted too many years already. He's here to win games and make cash.
That's the mission, people. He's not here to help complete some branded plan, some silly "Process." He's here to compete for a championship. Beginning Wednesday. Every day.
Markelle Fultz and Simmons had better find their jump shots. It's go time, men.
Without stepping onto a court, without playing a minute, Butler already is the Sixers' engine. He's the first grown-man star they've had since Charles Barkley, who was traded in 1992, less than three months before Butler turned 3. Barkley was often outrageous by design. Butler is outrageous by compulsion. There little in this hard, hard world that Butler hasn't seen. That makes him hard, too.
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He's everything the Sixers need: an underrated overachiever obsessed with validation. Get him fitted for an underdog mask. Make it an alpha dog.
Butler forced Minnesota to trade him because he's much too hard for Minnesota, and if there's anything Philadelphia learned about Minnesota since the NFC title game, it's that Minnesota ain't hard. Butler considered his former team misnamed. Timberwolves? More like Housecats.
To prove his point, Butler reportedly joined the scrubs at practice and humiliated Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Ran them off the court. And called them soft.
The Sixers might never win with Jimmy Butler. This trade might ruin the season. Robert Covington and Dario Saric might somehow prove to be finishing touches for coach Tom Thibodeau and perpetually bumbling owner Glen Taylor.
But Jimmy Butler will never call Embiid or Simmons soft. Not to their faces. They'd rip his head off, or they'd surely die trying.
You want proof that Towns and Wiggins are soft? Here's the proof: The guy who called them soft got away with it.
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Saric and Covington weren't soft; not exactly. But they weren't alphas, either, so the Sixers traded two betas for a hyper-alpha. That's a win, folks.
Alphas rule the NBA. They either coexist on teams or they don't, but you need them. It's too hard to win with just one, unless it's LeBron James and the Warriors happen to be crippled at the moment. It's too hard to win with just two, for that matter.
The Sixers now have three. Include soulless mercenary JJ Redick, suddenly, Brett Brown has four stone-cold, dead-eyed killers in his locker room.
"To inherit him, to absorb Jimmy into our culture and in that locker room, I am fearless," Brown said before the Sixers' matchup in Miami on Monday. "I am incredibly excited because what I do know is he cares and he competes."
The analytics might temper the trade's valuation — Butler's "Player Efficiency Rating" is 22.86, 28th in the league — but analytics are only tools; after all, he currently trails JaVale McGee and Enis Kanter. In 2014-15, when Stephen Curry won the MVP award, James had a PER of 25.9, sixth in the NBA and 16 percent lower than league-leader Anthony Davis. It is an inexact science.
Anyway, for now, numbers are irrelevant. That might be heresy for a franchise like the Sixers, which just increased its 12-person analytics team by 25 percent, but Butler's value transcends numbers. Chemistry still matters. The formula to determine "Value Over Replacement Player" doesn't have a valuation for swagger.
There's no telling where Butler, Embiid, and Simmons can go or what they can do. The only certainty is that they'll be spent when they get there; possibly broken. They each play with a desperation borne of insecurity: Embiid can't stay healthy, Simmons isn't a real point guard, Butler went late in the draft and has yet to get paid what he's worth.
The parallels with Barkley aren't exact. Butler's a chiseled, two-way stud; Chuck disdained defense, and his BMI often was larger than his PER. And yes, there have been other great Sixers. Nobody played harder than Allen Iverson, but Butler also practices hard, and he hones his craft, and he studies his opponents.
If the Flyers had a Jimmy Butler, then maybe they'd have won a playoff series in the past six seasons. The Phillies won the World Series a decade ago because they had a bucketful of Butlers — Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge, and, of course, Utley. Half the Eagles' Super Bowl roster was made up of Butlers, from Jalen Mills and Nick Foles, who played beyond their talent, to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Graham, who played beyond normal human pain thresholds.
Even if Butler fails to sign a long-term extension with the Sixers, he can, in the next few months, show Simmons and Embiid what NBA moxie really is.
That wasn't going to happen with Saric and Covington.