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Erik Spoelstra shades ‘NBA 2K’ when touting Jimmy Butler as max player

Jimmy Butler’s first season with the Miami Heat could not be going any better, and Erik Spoelstra took issue with a reporter’s question concerning the superstar’s off night Thursday in an 84-76 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Butler was cold from the field in the win, scoring eight points while hitting on only 20% (2-of-10) of his shots. The forward, as he has throughout his career, nevertheless managed to have a significant impact on the game despite his lack of scoring, contributing 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the win.

Addressing how Butler’s play leads to wins without him necessarily stuffing the box score, Spoelstra took a shot at “NBA 2K” and how the obsession with players putting up video-game-like stats undervalues other ways max players like Butler affect games.

“I think that’s what young players should learn coming into the league of what a max players actually means,” Spoelstra said, as transcribed by Clutch Points. “It’s not about stats. It’s not about that final number on the box score. It’s not about whatever 2K numbers you can get. It’s about how your team functions and are winning because of the player.”

The Heat acquired Butler in a sign-and-trade with the 76ers that included a four-year max deal worth $142 million. To say it was a savvy move would be an understatement, as Butler has been a spark plug for the Heat and the primary reason the team is one of the biggest surprises in the league.

The Heat sit as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference with a 25-9 record, with Butler averaging 20.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.

Butler has an established reputation as a player who is willing to do the dirty work to help a team win, especially when things aren’t going well offensively on the court. As Spoelstra observes, it’s that mentality that makes Butler a max-level player. Having him put up gaudy stat lines one would typically see out of a superstar player in an “NBA 2K” game is a bonus.