Although he was sitting on the bench with an injury during the Dallas Mavericks playoff run that led to the 2011 NBA championship, it’s without a doubt, Caron Butler helped bring the team to that point.
He’s proud of his team, and is happily soaking up the moment, one that comes nine years into his celebrated career.
“I’m trying to take it all in stride,” said Butler. All your life you want to be a champion. You always carry yourself like that, and represent your family the right way. To reach this height is so rewarding. So many great players always fall short of this goal. It is a very humbling experience.”
Butler, who went down halfway through the year with a season ending torn patella injury, says he was, in fact, just days from being cleared for a return by the Mavericks. He had been playing 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 in practice, and was participating in shoot around.
The team even brought his uniform to Miami, just in case he was cleared. Although he was not on the court when the team won, fellow players dedicated the playoff run to Butler, one that ultimately gave him, the entire team and the city of Dallas their first ever NBA Championship.
“It took me nine years to get here. I was playing some of the best ball of my career, and life threw something at me,” he said. “I kept moving forward, and that was our team’s identity. Coach said we’re going to continue to move forward because that’s what you did. I was less than a week out from being cleared. I was so close to coming back. This team inspired me, the same amount that I inspired them. It was more and more a breath of fresh air. And together we made beautiful music.
“Jason Kidd and Jason Terry saying they were going to dedicate the playoffs to me, that was really special,” Butler continued. “For Kidd, a future Hall of Famer, and Terry, whose jersey will probably hang in the rafters in Dallas one day, to say that, let me know that they respect me as basketball player, but more than that, they respect me as a person. In a sense, I felt like I was more a part of the win this way, than if I was out there myself.”
Next season, Butler will be a free agent. Although there will be some interest from NBA teams around the league, Butler has high expectations for what a return to Dallas could produce.
“This is the first time in my career that I’m a free agent, and a lot of teams will be calling,” said Butler. “But I think it would be great to be back in Dallas. The thing about success, you want to stay there, and continue at that level. The window of opportunity for this team is definitely there. Either way, I’m going to attack this off season like I never have. I’ll have a season and half worth of energy in me come next year. Tuff Juice just got tougher.”
Butler will be participating in the Dallas Mavericks’ team celebration and parade in Dallas on Thursday (June 16).