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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Reporter blames Jimmy Butler’s demands on friendship with Mark Wahlberg

Jimmy Butler

It would not be a great leap to say that the antics displayed by Jimmy Butler at Minnesota Timberwolves practice on Wednesday were those of an egomaniac, but you may have a tough time arguing that Mark Wahlberg had anything to do with it. Believe it or not, one reporter isn’t ruling that out.

Butler and Wahlberg struck up a friendship several years ago when Butler was still with the Chicago Bulls, and it has been said before that the star swingman has come to adore the Hollywood lifestyle. That’s true of plenty of professional athletes, but Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune wrote this week that Butler’s theatrics at Wednesday’s practice were “done well enough to be a Marky Mark Production.”

Reusse is not the only one who thinks Butler’s stunt was premeditated, as it probably was not a coincidence that ESPN’s Rachel Nichols was standing by for a pre-arranged interview with Butler after he berated his teammates, coaches and Minnesota’s front office. There was also a report that Butler told Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau earlier in the week that he planned to act the way he did if he was not traded and had to rejoin the team.

When Butler was in Chicago two years ago, a Bulls reporter criticized him for his massive ego and said Butler walks around bragging about how he hangs out with Wahlberg. Reusse alluded to that report, noting that Butler and Thibodeau once had a great relationship when Butler was a hungry underdog but that it has since soured as Butler’s head grows bigger.

Butler is clearly trying to send a message to the higher-ups in Minnesota, and it’s possible his decision to change the location of a meeting with Thibodeau earlier this offseason was anything but a coincidence. It’s highly unlikely — if not downright silly to think — that Wahlberg had a hand in Butler’s outburst this week, but the narrative that Jimmy has “gone Hollywood” is hardly a new one.

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