“Winning,” Butler said. “Winning does that.”
Still, that joy is refreshing to see. Lots of times in the NBA, a big play will bring out a scowl or a stare-down. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it sure does make a guy who plays with a little glee and elation stick out.
Of late, Butler has added a new bit of fun to his routine. When he hits a long shot, he’ll mimic dialing it up on an imaginary phone.
Who’s he calling?
He isn’t saying.
“It’s long distance,” he said, that twinkle back in his eye.
Now, don’t mistake happiness for softness. Butler, who survived a tough childhood, isn’t afraid to mix it up. After he thought James Johnson took an unnecessary swipe at his face in Game 6, Butler gave Johnson a what-the-heck-was-that poke in the back.
The two had to be separated.
“He loves basketball,” Durant said of Butler, then launched into a story.
The first road trip that Butler made with the Thunder was to Phoenix. Durant wanted to go to the gym and get in some work, so he texted a couple guys to see if they wanted to go along. Even though he didn’t know Butler well, something told Durant to give him a try.
“And he was the first guy downstairs to come work out with me,” Durant remembered. “He just loves to play, loves to be on the court. You can just tell.”
No doubt about that, and heading into Game 7, you can bet no one inside the ’Peake will be more stoked than Butler. He uses words like “rejoice” and “love” to describe how he feels on the court these days.
“I’m in a good place, great fit,” Butler said, “and I’m just extremely happy to be playing.”
Twists and turns have led to something grand.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.