Nice Guys Finish Last. Old Guys Just Finish.

Between them, Lebron James and Jimmy Butler have lived on Earth for more than 72 years, played more than 30 NBA seasons and have four NBA titles between them, none of which currently belong to Butler.

No, neither one of them have as many, even combined, as Michael Jordan.  And Butler has yet to win a thing with the Heat, where Lebron won half of his titles.  But last night, as part of a thrilling pair of NBA Game 4s which TNT was fortunate enough to own broadcast rights to, both delivered performances for the ages, particularly down the stretch, that thrilled the screaming and beautiful crowds in their alarmingly similar and (until recently) homages to digital currency arenas.

In the newly rechristened Kaseya Center (nee FTX Arena) near South Beach, Butler single-handedly kept the Heat in contention early on and then delivered a rousing finish against the #1 seed Bucks, as Samir Mehdi of SportsRush recounted this morning:

Playoff Jimmy Butler is real. Well, Jimmy doesn’t want to admit it as he took to his postgame availability to say that he ‘just hoops’ throughout the year but it’s clear that Butler doesn’t care enough about the regular season to go out and drop 40+,50+ point games like he does when the Playoffs arrive.

In tonight’s Game 4 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat, Giannis Antetokounmpo made his return from his back injury. He would notch his 3rd career postseason triple double but it wouldn’t be enough to withstand Butler and his heroics.

The Bucks held a 15 point lead over the Heat with about one minute and 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter and looked poised to tie up the series at two games a piece. Unfortunately for them, Jimmy decided to turn it up on the offensive end of the floor, eclipsing what he had done in Game 1 of this series by a wide margin.

Jimmy Butler had himself a 3 and a stepback jumper in the final 80 seconds of Game 4 to put the Heat up 112-109. He would then drain 5 free throws in the final minute of the bout to put Miami up for good. The comeback by the Heat was fuelled by Jimmy and it clearly had Reggie Miller feeling a certain type of way.

“This may be the greatest Playoff performance by any Heat player and that’s saying a lot about Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and all the championship [players]…Alonzo Mourning that’s been in this uniform. This might be the greatest,” said Miller while commenting with Kevin Harlan.

Butler’s 56 point outburst was the fourth-most points ever scored in an NBA playoff games.  Yes, Jordan still has the record with 63.  And Lebron and the Heatles still have more rings.  But last night, Jimmy Buckets took a huge step toward his own legacy, this time with actual fans cheering him on, unlike the virtual crowd that he thrilled when the Heat conquered the Orlando bubble in the summer of 2020.

And in Los Angeles’ still awkwardly named Center, Lebron had a night to remember of his own, one that even eclipsed his own high bar.  As UPI’s Alex Butler (I assume no relation to Jimmy) reported:

LeBron James scored 22 points and snagged a career playoff-high 20 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4 of their first-round NBA playoff series. The Lakers now lead the series 3-1.

James, who dished out seven assists, made several clutch shots in regulation and overtime in the 117-111 win Monday at Arena in Los Angeles. Lakers center Antony Davis chipped in 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Guard Austin Reaves scored a team-high 23 points in the win.

“I was just trying to be as great as I can be offensively, but more importantly on the defensive end,” James told reporters. “That was the mindset.

“I was able to make a couple plays to help us be successful.”

One of those plays was particularly satisfying.  As Zach Mentz of reported:

The Los Angeles Lakers trailed the Memphis Grizzlies by two points, 104-102, with 6.7 seconds remaining in regulation of Monday night’s Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 4.

And then Lakers star LeBron James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in playoff games played, rose to the occasion once again, hitting a game-tying lay-up with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to tie the game and force overtime.

But James didn’t stop there.

With 30 seconds left in overtime and the Lakers leading 111-108, the four-time NBA champion sealed the Game 4 win with an improbable and-one lay-up at the rim – and he let his emotions loose afterwards.

“I felt like that play right there, I wouldn’t say, ‘closed the door,’ but it sealed it,” James said after the game. “There wasn’t much light at the end for the rest of the game. I was just letting the emotion come out.”

And how satisfying was it to do it against the Memphis Grizzly that somehow got the chance to face off against Lebron last night despite his performance art antics in Game 2 and his best impression of Draymond Green and Joel Embiid’s leg stretches in Game 3.  As the Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells recounted, you can cue the Price Is Right loser horns:

Dillon Brooks is staying silent with the Memphis Grizzlies on the brink of elimination after Monday’s 117-111 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference playoff series.

Speaking to reporters, Brooks simply said “I’m out” rather than commenting on the game.

After the Grizzlies’ win in Game 2, Brooks declared LeBron James to be “old” and he doesn’t “respect no one” until they score 40 points against him.

“”He’s not at the same level as he was when he was in Cleveland and winning championships in Miami,” Brooks added. “I wish I got to see that. I mean, it would have been a harder, harder task (to guard him).”

Brooks and James had a discussion on the court before Game 3. The Grizzlies’ enforcer was ejected from the game in the third quarter after being called for a flagrant 2 foul when he appeared to hit the four-time NBA MVP with a low blow.

After refusing to speak with reporters following the Game 3 loss, Brooks told reporters on Sunday the perception of him as a “villain” from fans and the media played a role in him being ejected because it “creates a whole different persona on me.”

I suspect Brooks’ persona this morning is being equated with the same sort of Twitter response that Elon Musk tends to make with inquiring reporters these days.

Yeh, the one that’s usually associated with what young people tend to assume is the priority of most old folks.

As someone who’s still far feistier and eminently more productive than many folks half my age these days, I’m particularly excited when those that are left for dead remind the world why they’re still great, and are still alive with a chance to be even greater.

They may not be the GOATs.  But this morning, Jimmy Butler and LeBron James are pretty darn good old dogs.




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