A loss like the one the Bulls experienced on Wednesday night is supposed to hurt, according to Dwyane Wade. It's supposed to piss you off, if you ask Jimmy Butler. The most prominent consequence? It makes you talk.
Butler and Wade had an awful lot to say to the media following a heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Hawks that involved the two stars combining for 73 points but also ended with missed 3-pointers from Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser. Wade started by taking some shots at the passion of his fellow teammates.
“This game is more than just makes and missing,” Wade said. “I don’t know. Guys have to ask that question themselves. I’m not at home with people. But I don’t know if I see enough guys who really, really want it. Losses like this have to hurt them. I’m 35 years old. I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it. If they don’t want it, then we’ll show up and play Friday. Hopefully, we’ll win. If we don’t, then we go to dinner again and keep it going until the season is over. It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this. This s**t should f***ing hurt.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Wade said. “But you continue to be in these kinds of situations and lose games like this, you really don’t care enough. You don’t care enough. It’s got to mean that much to you to want to win. And it doesn’t. So I don’t know. I don’t know happened. I don’t know how you fix it. It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ball games. It pisses me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys. They got to care for themselves. We got to do better. We got to do better knowing where you shots coming and knocking them down. We got to do better knowing film, knowing your personnel. As a team, we got to do better, man.”
In the interest of fairness, I feel obliged to share this clip of Wade jogging very slowly back on defense that made a Hawks 3-pointer possible:
— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) January 26, 2017
This clip doesn't invalidate Wade's claims, but it does raise some questions about Wade's culpability. Getting back on defense is a product of effort and caring after all.
Wade was also asked about the talent he was surrounded with, and whether that was playing a role in the Bulls' situation. He seemed skeptical.
"There's guys in this league that people don't think they can play; once they get into certain situations, once they get certain confidence, they can play," Wade said. "It's not about the talent. Everyone's in this league for a reason. But it's more than talent in this league. I tell my son that all the time. Talent is not just going to make you a great player.
"There's other things that help you become a good player, a solid player. A team that people can count on. A player that a team can count on. You guys see our lineup. There's a lot of shuffling around. Coach don't feel you can count that many guys right now. That can't be. I know there's guys over here waiting for their opportunities, but hopefully when they get them, they step and do their job that needs to be done."
There's some ambiguity about this last quote. When Wade says, "That can't be," does he mean it's unacceptable for the guys, meaning his teammates, to be so unreliable, or does it mean that Hoiberg is wrong for treating so many of his players as unreliable and maintaining such inconsistency in the rotations?
“Me and Jimmy, coach puts the ball in our hands a lot to make plays, to make shots,” Wade said. “That’s our job. I think for the majority of the season we’ve done it when we counted, when we needed to. I can look at Jimmy and say Jimmy is doing his job. I think Jimmy can look at me and say Dwyane is doing his job. I don’t know if we can keep going down the line and be able to say that.”
Finally, Wade questioned the motivations of his colleagues, asking what it was truly about for them.
“I wish I could say that everyone in here is going to go home and not eat tonight,” Wade said. “I can’t say that. I wish I could, but I don’t know that they care enough. Games are supposed to hurt. You’re not supposed to sleep, you’re not supposed to want to talk to anybody. These games are supposed to hurt. I don’t know if that is in guys in this locker room. Hopefully they can prove me wrong, but I will challenge them to see if losses like this hurt. We can play bad, we can miss shots, but we’re having too many of these lapses. We’re having too many of these losses. This just can’t be acceptable if you want to do anything besides have an NBA jersey on and make some money. That’s all we’re doing right now.”
The Bulls' franchise player wasn't silent either after the loss. He let some remarks fly about who was taking the shots at the end of the game.
“I understand that if you’ve got an open shot, take it,” Butler said. “But at a point in the game like that, no offense but you gotta get the ball to your best players. That’s just how the game goes. Let it come down on my shoulders or D-Wade’s shoulders. Let us be the reason why. I understand if you’re open, yeah, shoot it. But at a time and place when a guy is making shots like he was and like I was. I felt like everything was going in that I put up there, It happens man, you just got to learn from it. I’m not mad at the shot selection. I just think there’s a time and place for all of that.”
It's tough to argue with Butler here. He's been one of the most clutch players in the NBA in 2017 (read more about that here), and he should absolutely be taking the big shots when it matters. That said, the 3-pointers by Gibson, Zipser and Mirotic in the fourth quarter (watch them here) seemed to me to be fairly organic and fit well in the flow of the offense. Yes, Butler needs the ball when the game is on the line, but sometimes fourth quarters are loosely organized chaos, and a team has to take what is given to them.
Butler went on to comment on his teammates devotion, echoing the comments of his fellow star.
“If you don’t come in this m*****f***er pissed off after you lose any game, if you’re not pissed off that you lost, man, something is wrong,” Butler said. “This is your job. This is what you’re supposed to love to do, and I don’t think that everybody looks at it that way. I want to play with guys that care, guys that play hard, that want to do well for this organization. That want to win games, man. Do whatever it takes, just win. Who cares who is shining? When we’re winning everybody looks great, everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. I don’t think that’s happening right now, I really don’t.”
Butler, who's been entrenched in trade rumors since early this summer, was asked at the end of the interview about his thoughts on the upcoming trade deadline. He had little to say in response.
“That’s not my job,” Butler said. “I don’t give a damn about no trade deadline. I just want to win now. Not later. Now.”
Watch Wade's comments below.