ROSEMONT, Ill. – Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo can see where Jimmy Butler is coming from.
Izzo was asked at Thursday’s Big Ten Media Day about Butler, who challenged and confronted Minnesota Timberwolves teammates and members of the Wolves front office in his return to practice Wednesday.
One of Butler’s biggest frustrations with Minnesota’s team is other starters such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins can’t match his toughness and heart on the court. Izzo might not agree with how Butler conveyed that message, but he understands Butler’s attitude toward the game.
“I kind of appreciate his approach,” Izzo said, “because he wants to win a championship. He doesn’t just want to win 50 games. And I think he knows it’s not going to happen (the way they play).”
Izzo said there was a reason Magic Johnson picked up players like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee to play with LeBron James on the new-look Los Angeles Lakers. It was to add more toughness to the Lakers.
Butler, who requested a trade this preseason, has always been one of the toughest players in the NBA.
“I like that about Jimmy Butler personally, because I think it’s a necessity to win,” Izzo said. “I think Jimmy Butler thinks it’s a necessity to win. Can you teach it? It’s harder. As you get stronger and have more physical practices guys grow into it (in college). Guys don’t love the physical nature anymore, because they want free flowing and this and that. But what did you think of Villanova? They were pretty smash mouth … they were tough.”