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13 years.

809 games.

43 playoff games.

By every measure, Rasual Butler had a winning NBA career.

4 seasons.

2125 points,

making Rasual Butler the 4th leading scorer at La Salle University and earning him a place in the Hall of Fame.

Rasual Butler had a winning NCAA basketball career, too.

He was high school player of the year in Philadelphia—a basketball city if there ever was one—and a Parade All-American. With an average of 26.7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks his senior year, was anyone more deserving?

After a life well-won, Rasual Butler died yesterday. Teammates and rivals with names like John Wall, Blake Griffin, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Reggie Miller, and Allen Iverson shared more than just their condolences; their words contained the highest level of respect for a man whose star power perhaps wasn’t as bright as their own, but burned with equal intensity.

Butler also made a strong impression on Larry Bird, who, as President of the Indiana Pacers, expanded his 2013 roster and accepted a luxury tax to include him.

The Pacers were the 6th NBA franchise Rasual Butler was a member of, a feat in itself. But it was his path to Indiana that really demonstrates Butler’s true winning spirit.


The Miami Heat selected Rasual Butler in the 2nd round of the NBA draft in 2002. Believing himself worthy of a 1st round pick, he carried a chip on his shoulder, but balanced it with grace as he settled into his reputation as a reliable outside shooter.

Butler went on to play for the Hornets; the Heat went on to win a championship without him.

After that, it was over to LA, where Butler put up a career-best 11.9 points per game in the 2009-10 season. From there, he bounced over to the Chicago Bulls, back to the Clippers, then to the Toronto Raptors, who, in March 2012 dropped him.

A 10-year NBA career? I would call that winning.

Rasual Butler wouldn’t.


For the next 11 months, Rasual Butler was at the gym every day. 4 hours a day, every day, training. Running, shooting, dribbling, passing, hustling, lifting, drilling, grinding, grueling.


Next stop after the so-called Rasual Butler Academy[1] was the NBA D-League. As if that title wasn’t defaming enough, Butler’s teammates also called him “Grandpop.” He took that nickname and turned it into another one, Impact Player of the Year, metaphorically shattering the backboard on a dunk over the heads of the younger guys.

Still, the NBA overlooked the 33-year old vet. He would have to prove himself in the Indiana summer league (he did) to be invited to the Pacers’ training camp (he was) and finally get that roster spot (Larry Bird made sure he did).

In 2014, Butler did it all over again; he accepted a non-guaranteed contract offer from the Washington Wizards and went on to not only make the team, but make an impact.

Rinse, repeat.

2015 was more of the same, only for the San Antonio Spurs, who would be the 8th and final team Rasual Butler would play for before retiring.


Rasual Butler was a naturally gifted athlete. That’s lucky.

But it was his tenacity, the mental fortitude, the commitment, the investment in his technique and physique—in spite of, or perhaps even because of obstacles in his path that made Rasual Butler the most special kind of athlete. He once said,

“My goal is to be empty when I leave the game. That I’ll have nothing left to give mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally, because the game has been good to me.”

Embodying that attitude, Rasual Butler remains forever winning.


[1] For further reading on the ‘Rasual Butler Academy’ and the man himself, please read Rasual Butler’s Journey by Lorne Chan. A winning piece for a winning person.

Jillian Conochan

Jillian Conochan is a professional amateur; writing and editing just happen to be two current pursuits. Opinion range: strong to DNGAF.

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