Jimmy Butler at his best is a scary proposition for any adversary, but even his best isn’t good enough for him. The 31-year-old forward is simply incapable of taking his foot off the gas, aggressively pushing himself and his Miami Heat teammates to their limits.
His unrivalled drive made the Heat unlikely title candidates during last year’s NBA Playoffs, a feat Butler and his teammates are intent on repeating this year. That relentlessness also prevents Butler from settling for mediocre timepieces; he’s always liked a bit of flash but hasn’t cozied up to any watchmakers as a partner, until now. Butler’s taking his first major mantle of 2021, becoming the newest brand ambassador for LVMH-owned TAG Heuer.
Though he’s not above a bit of mid-game mud-slinging, Butler is extremely personable to interview - we only have fifteen minutes to chat but he answers questions thoughtfully and at length. He hardly stutters, never pauses with a lengthy “ummm…” In fact, a conversation with Butler is not unlike a game of ball with Butler: he’s quick on his tongue and feet alike (thankfully for me, he’s a lot more laid-back off-court).
The partnership makes sense because, like fellow ambassador Naomi Osaka, Butler is near his peak and a worthy role model for both his arresting ball handling and activism. Currently, his only self-admitted downfall is that he doesn’t have nearly as many precious timepieces as Mark Wahlberg.
What makes TAG Heuer a fit for Jimmy Butler?
Oh, man, TAG Heuer has been in the game for so long doing what they do - and that's being the best, elite.
I like to think I'm the same way. I put everything in everything that I have, and they believe in me to help bring that to their brand as well.
Is there a specific TAG model that's your watch?
I'm really vibing with the Carrera. A lot of [the bands have] gold in there, I like the color schemes. It's real sleek but if you want to wear it in a sporty way or you want to put on a suit, it's the jack-of-all-trades type. They're for everybody. That Carrera hit different.
Do you plan out the watches that you wear to events or are you just like, "I'm waking up, I'm putting on this watch and I’m done?”
It can go either way, honestly, it's all about how I wake up in the morning. Sometimes you want to put something together with the ‘fit that you have on or you're just like, "Man, I love this watch. Good things happen whenever I have this watch on."
Do you have a style in mind for the playoffs?
I'm in Miami, so the style is going to be for Miami. You don't want to be in a full-blown suit, sweating by the time you get to the door. I want it to be not in-your-face but me, different in a way that everybody's like, "You know what? That makes sense. It fits him. He can pull it off."
And then the timepiece, the TAG Heuer is gonna definitely pop, and you're going to be like, "Okay, he put that together very, very nicely."
Are any of your teammates or peers into watches? Did they get you into watches or vice versa?
It's a little bit of both. Definitely got guys on the team and friends into watches. Me and my cousin, my trainers, everybody that I'm around on a daily basis, they're into it. We're constantly looking at stuff, thinking, "Hey, this fits me."
Even when you talk about the TAG Heuer smartwatches, we wear [them] when we're training. We're like, "You know what? Let's put together this fit, throw this on." It's a conversation around the house. It gets real, like who can put together the nicest stuff.
Is there someone out there whose collection influenced you with watch collecting?
I'd probably go with Mark Wahlberg. If you look at the amount of watches he has [or] look at the amount of watches that [Kevin Hart] has. You want your collection to be that, to where somebody is really like, "Man, that's nice. That's elite.”
Just off the top of your head, how many watches are we talking about in Mark Wahlberg's collection?
Ooh, man. He's in a league of his own, so I can't even put a number on it, I really can't. I just know it's impressive.
You're going to get there one day though.
Oh yeah. For sure.
Stepping back a bit: as a basketball player up against the clock every day, how do you conceptualize time?
It's everything to me. I've spent so much time with my loved ones, with my friends, training, just doing things that I love and being around people that I love. We capture it all so that when this time passes, we can look back and just reminisce.
It's the most incredible thing to be able to [constantly capture memorable moments], because you never forget anything. And I don't want to forget anything. I feel fortunate to be on the path that I'm on, going through everything that I've been through and more importantly, being around the people that I get to be around every day. And that's a part of my time: I never want to forget [anything].
Off the court, do you retain that internal sense of being up against the clock or can you just chill out and relax?
You can chill and relax, but you always think about time because you never want to waste it; you can't get it back. Everything you want to do, you want it to be purposeful, you want it to be memorable. You want to share it with the people that you really rock with, that you enjoy being around and making memories with.
I don't lose track of time. I'm just so grateful for it. And I think I can say that about everybody that I'm around. We're all just so grateful for the time we have. It's a blessing to be able to do what we do on a daily basis.
Now, let’s say you’re talking to someone with no interest or experience in watches. What would you tell them is the benefit of having a watch over checking your phone for the time?
It’s something else that you can have in common with somebody. When you're sitting across the table from somebody, you see they have on a nice watch and a conversation starts. I think what's wrong with the world today is that people don't understand how much you actually have in common with somebody else.
It could be anything [but watches are] a conversation starter. Before you know it, you could gain a new friend. You can mess around and go to dinner together the night after you met somebody else at dinner. That's one thing that it does to me. When you see a nice watch and you compliment somebody on their watch, they're like, "Wow. You're into watches. How did you know what this was?"
That is where the world needs to get to, the fact that everybody got something in common with everybody, you just got to look for it. Whenever you look for it, you acknowledge it, and then you realize, “I'm not so different than you after all.”
What advice would you give a beginner looking to get into watches?
You like what you like. Your taste is your taste. It's your own. It's unique. And that's okay, because you're made the way that you're made. You don't have to try to keep up with anybody else, you don't have to try to be like anybody else. You just be you.
But that's not only in watches, that's in life as a whole. That's in everything that you do every single day. A watch is just an extension of who you are, what you like, how you want to be noticed, how you want to be seen.
Wearing a watch is just an extension of you. It's another way to say, "This is me.”