By: ANETTA NOWOSIELSKA, PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDWIN JEAN
THE ONE AND ONLY JIMMY BUTLER ON LIFE, BASKETBALL AND THE BINDING ALLURE OF REALLY GOOD COFFEE.
Jimmy Butler, the six-time NBA All-Star, five-time All-NBA Team honoree, five-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team honoree, and an Olympic gold medalist, plays zero games when it comes to his cup of Joe.
He shows up on the set of this cover shoot with a coffee machine in tow, which quickly begins to dispense an intense brew of flavor, an aromatic mélange of Ethiopian, Kenyan, and Columbian beans sourced for his BIGFACE coffee brand. Coffee drinking may be an occupational hazard for the always on-the-go Butler, a charming multi-hyphenate with a refined palate who, when not in season, crosses continents in pursuit of knowledge, wine tastings, and, as evidenced on his YouTube channel, samba dancing. We caught up with Miami Heat’s small forward after his first cappuccino of the day (served with oat milk, for the record) somewhere between a quick drop-by at the recent US Open, where he cheered on Coco Gauff, a youth camp in Fort Lauderdale he coaches and a commercial shoot in Los Angeles for one of the many projects Butler is involved in. A generous and funny raconteur on a mission to live life with a meaning, there is way more to Jimmy Butler than just “Buckets.”
WHICH OF THE ACCOLADES YOU HAVE RECEIVED SO FAR MEAN THE MOST TO YOU?
The accolade that still means the most to me is being drafted. I take that as an award for being really good at what I did in college. Some people don’t get drafted, and they still make it, and kudos to them. Being drafted and hearing my name called was always a dream of mine. Back then and now, it felt like a privilege. This is the only individual accolade I cared about. Nowadays, that individual part does nothing for me because I play a team sport. It’s not just about me.
YOU’VE BEEN PLAYING BASKETBALL ON THE HIGHEST LEVEL FOR OVER TWELVE YEARS. DOES BEING PART OF THIS SPORT STILL FEEL LIKE A PRIVILEGE?
Hell yeah! It’s a blessing to be able to do what I love. And to be around people who, like me, want to compete on that level. That’s very special to me. Playing basketball is a real thing, and I’m super proud to be part of it.
YOU RECENTLY HELD A BASKETBALL CAMP FOR KIDS IN FORT LAUDERDALE. WHAT SURPRISES YOU MOST ABOUT YOUNG ATHLETES TODAY?
Today’s game is much more in the hands of young athletes than when I was growing up. They watch everything the pros are doing. These days, you can train like us, eat like us, and watch what the pros are doing all day long. That’s a gift and a curse. Keep in mind that the pros show what they want you to see and not necessarily the whole picture. Maybe that’s not great. With my social channels, I try to demonstrate the human side of things… not just the major shots I scored because that’s unrealistic. And I don’t want any kid out there to think we don’t miss. Because we do. I see many young athletes model the game after some of the world’s best players, and there is nothing wrong with that. I admire and respect that. But it does show me that they are influenced by what they see on our social media. They need to remember that playing the game on this level takes a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice. I don’t want anyone to be confused about only the good stuff they see.
SPEAKING OF KIDS, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM BEING A FATHER? I learned what it takes to put someone else ahead of yourself and grow them, mold them while allowing them to be themselves. My actions are now being duplicated. Everything I do, my daughter emulates. She talks like me; her mannerisms are a lot like mine; she likes the food I like. I love the randomness of it… you just never know what you are going to get. As a parent, you must take it in stride. Having kids makes you better; it pushes you to be the best version of yourself. I love that there is no filter with kids. They will always tell you their truth, and that’s one of the many reasons I like being around youngsters.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST TEACHER OR COACH GROWING UP? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAMMATES AND FRIENDS ARE LEARNING FROM YOU?
I can’t single out anyone since I had so many people who meant something to me on and off the court. I would have to shout out to literally everyone who has helped me along the way. I didn’t get to this level all alone. Regarding what my teammates are learning from me, my motto has always been, ‘I’d rather show you than tell you.’ And that’s not to say I have nothing to say. I’m trying, to the best of my ability, to lead by example.
WITH YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE, HOW DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?
Balance is tricky for me. Between working, family, staying in shape, reading, and traveling, balance is a challenge. It goes back to that sacrifice we spoke about. Especially during the off-season, I try to experience as much as I can, be it working, seeing my family, or enjoying life. With so much going on all the time, I really want to focus on living my life to the fullest, along with those who helped me build it. I try to take everyone with me on this wild ride because, without those people, I wouldn’t be where I am. That’s also part of that balance.
LET’S TALK COFFEE.
I started this brand because coffee is a common denominator among many people. You can sit down with someone over coffee to talk about anything. “How do you drink your coffee,” is a great way to start a conversation. You begin with talking about coffee; before you know it, you get into deeper subjects. This is the idea that got me into this business. When it comes to a preferred variety, I don’t have one. I’ll occasionally drink an espresso, love a pour-over, and love a latte. When I master the art of coffee making, I may move on to something else, but for now, I still have a long way to go.
ANY LESSONS FROM THE COURT THAT ARE HELPING YOU AS AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH YOUR BIGFACE BRAND AND YOUR OTHER ENDEAVORS?
Be the best. Nobody cares about second or third place. No matter what you end up doing, be it basketball, coffee making, or running a daycare, you have got to be the best. Be the one with the best story behind you, and represent the best vibes. All these things matter.
IF THERE WAS A MOVIE TO BE MADE ABOUT YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED, AND WHO DO YOU SEE PLAYING YOU?
I would call it “The Man Who Nobody Needs to Worry About” because I don’t want anyone in my business. I would get Mark Wahlberg to play me. It won’t be a stretch for him as an actor… we look identical and are almost the same height.