‘I’ve Never Seen A Man Carry A Team Like This To An NBA Finals’ | Jay Williams Talking Crazy Again

ESPN’s Jay Williams in effect said that Jimmy Butler is carrying the Heat to the NBA Finals like nobody in the history of the game has. As breaking down the actual series matchup isn’t enough for the talking head shows to drive ratings and go viral, we have commentary like this.

What Is Jay Williams Talking About?

What does Williams even mean? “Carry” a team? Is Williams implying that it’s Butler and four dudes he picked up from 24 Hour Fitness and gave jerseys to in the Finals?

Now if Williams is saying we haven’t seen individual brilliance like this from a player leading a team to the Finals, he’s also wrong.

In this regard, so many can’t be overlooked: Tim Duncan (2003),LeBron James (2007, 2018), Dirk Nowitzki (2011), and Nikola Jokic (2023).

But that’s not what Williams is talking about. He’s using the hero narrative because it’s easy and people buy it.

It’s discourse like this that is bad for basketball and the NBA.

You could make a legitimate case that Caleb Martin should have been the conference finals MVP. The undrafted player out of UNLV in 2019 averaged 19 points and six rebounds per game on 60/48/87 shooting splits on top of playing stout defense on Jaylen Brown and other members of the Boston Celtics in that series.

Brown, who made All-NBA this season, also averaged 19 points and six rebounds per game, but on woeful 41/16/66 shooting splits.

If Brown and Martin swapped places in that series, which team would win?

The Hero Narrative Blinds Us

The point is all of this reductive narrative-based explanation of the game takes away from what is actually happening on the floor.

Butler has been incredible this postseason; there is no denying that. But Martin, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson have been excellent.

The latter are undrafted people who you don’t see on commercials and aren’t ones about which the casual NBA fan has heard But they are clearly talented players. Basketball is more than a superstar player and some “others.”

Yes, you obviously need an elite player like Butler, But to win you need a collective and they can’t just be a bunch of dudes. The league is too talented and deep.

Butler knows this as well. Yes, he has to play well but he knows he can’t win an NBA championship alone.

“That might have surprised y’all,” Butler said of Martin’s game-seven performance against the Celtics. “To the untrained eye, he just looks like he’s an undrafted guy who has been in the G League, who has started with Charlotte and now he’s here. Started on a two-way contract. That’s what it looks like to y’all. To us, he’s a hell of a player, hell of a defender, playmaker, shot maker, all of the above.

“Everybody has seen Caleb work on those shots day in, day out. It doesn’t surprise us. We have seen it every single day. I’m so proud and happy for him. I think he’s going to be even better in the next round, and I don’t think he’s going to be a surprise to anybody any longer.”

It’s okay to marvel at what Butler and other star players around the league do. It’s why they are who they are.

But we have to resist this false narrative of one superstar player and some guys win championships solely because of that superstar’s individual brilliance.

As Butler said, Martin looks a certain way to the untrained eye. But we can train our eyes to see, and we have stats that show the contributions all players make to win.

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