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Okay, now look at this headline.
It’s... beautiful. It combines authority (“Report:”) with intrigue (“Bulls Insider Says”), relevant news (“Jimmy Butler Changed”), and ??????? (“Due to Mark Wahlberg Friendship”). Thinking about this headline will soothe me until I fall asleep, and wake anew into the next new day.
Let’s unpack this a little. Jimmy Butler is the extraordinarily talented, extraordinarily petty basketball player who currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves but wants to play for someone else, as evidenced when he privately made a trade request to management, then publicly wrecked a team practice and gave a self-aggrandizing interview to ESPN about the ordeal he created. Mark Wahlberg is the impressively muscled, questionably intelligent star of movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction and Transformers: The Last Knight. They have been friends since 2013, when Wahlberg visited the Chicago Bulls, who Butler was then playing for.
There was insight sought from a Chicago media person who had watched Butler from the start of his career. The suggestion was that Jimmy came into the league driven by his underdog status, and that changed a few years later when he started hanging out with Wahlberg and seeing himself as a star. The feeling in Chicago was that Butler’s game stopped growing three, four years ago, as his head grew ever larger.
Et tu, Marky Mark?????? Part of Butler’s problem with his Minnesota teammates is that they don’t try hard enough; they don’t want to win as badly as he does. Here’s a quote Wahlberg gave to The Chicago Tribune about Butler, as helpfully dug up by USA Today:
There are so many people that I’ve met who don’t have Jimmy’s attitude and approach to life and to work. And it’s not something that you can kind of convince them to adopt. You either have it or you don’t. I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to look at it the way he and I do. But some people, once they taste success, they get satisfied. They do it for different reasons. He wants to be the best at what he does the hard way, the right way.
Ah, seems fair? But Butler digging out his teammates and trying to privately maneuver his way out of town has hardly been a noble process. Plus, there’s the fact that Wahlberg is a crazy person who nobody should ever aspire to imitate.
His life is the basis of Entourage, a buddy comedy about the most obnoxious dudes alive. (A fictionalization that involved throwing one of his real friends under the bus.) Some of his other sports friendships include Manny Pacquiao (a magnificent fighter who’s also a notorious homophobe) and Tom Brady (probably the greatest quarterback of all-time but also a Trump supporter and snake oil salesman). He demanded a $1.5 million fee to reshoot scenes for All the Money in the World, far more than his co-star Michelle Williams or anyone else, before donating the money after public blowback. He tried to get a pardon for the hate crime he committed as a teen, when he attacked two Vietnamese people and left one of them blinded. He allowed Mel Gibson, holy shit, to play his dad in Daddy’s Home 2.
Remember his daily schedule, which was made public earlier this year? He wakes up at 2:30 a.m. (!?) to pray, before launching into a day filled mostly with workouts, meal prep, family time, meetings, and cryotherapy. (Also, a half hour of “golf.”) He goes to bed at 7:30 p.m., well before any of the good TV shows begin airing.
He also apologized for starring in Boogie Nights, the best movie he’s ever made and by far his best acting performance. It’s not as bad as the other stuff, but come on.
You know this kind of guy: a glad-handing tryhard who wears his brand like a suit of armor, and never met a platitude about Doing The Work that he didn’t want to adopt. You imagine him talking in Butler’s ear: “Bro, bro. You work hard, you play hard. These guys don’t know what they’re doing. You gotta take what you deserve, on some king shit. I learned that when everyone told me not to make Ted 2.” If only Jimmy had stayed away.