While the official rosters for this year’s Rookie-Sophomore Challenge (also called the Rising Stars Challenge) have not been released it has become known that Chicago Bulls swing-man Jimmy Butler will not be on it. In fact he wasn’t even in the pool of the eligible players. When asked about the snuff Butler did what all humble athletes do…downplayed it and focused on the importance of the team and how it’s more important for him to keep playing hard and to win rather than compete in an individual thing.
Hearing those things is great but Butler should be a little offended if not a lot. His numbers as of late are an easy indication of his maturation on the court and the increased minutes he has received should serve as a clear sign of confidence from head coach Tom Thibodeau. I’m not saying that Butler should take to the media and bash everyone who makes it but he should feel snubbed. His presence helped Chicago cope with the loss of Luol Deng for several games and the way he filled in only shows how much he has grown since his rookie season.
Butler is averaging 15 points and eight boards a game and while he may re-claim his spot on the bench upon Deng’s return it will shock no one if his minutes per game increase.
He is young, talented, established and most importantly deserving like several other players on the Bulls are. This snub steals his only chance to participate in the Rising Star Challenge and the fact that he was passed over is a true shame. Butler may never be voted into an All-Star Game in his career. While I would love to see it happen down the road it wouldn’t shock me if he was continuously passed over for flashier players because hey, that’s the nature of the All-Star Game. But this isn’t the All-Star Game, the Rising Stars Challenge is a game to showcase the up and coming talent in the league and to show the fans what they have to look forward to when Hall-of-Fame players like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett retire and the fact that Butler was snubbed is a missed opportunity to showcase a real talent in both offensive and defensive terms.
I guess for the time being the Bulls will just have to keep Butler to themselves.