Jimmy Butler has become a star. Actually, a bona fide All-Star. In a single season, he's made the leap from a talented secondary player to one about to cash in on his impending free agency. With the possibly career-ending series of injuries that have befallen Derrick Rose, Butler is set to become the face of the franchise in time for a playoff run. But first he's got to get healthy. Nursing his own hurt elbow, Butler spoke to Maxim about his health, the Bulls' chances this post-season, and a cause he's passionate about, reducing hunger in children.
How’s your elbow feeling?
My elbow's great. Getting better day-by-day.
With the Bulls right now in the middle of the playoff race, what do you guys think you need to improve on, besides getting healthy?
Probably our defense. I think our defense has let up a little this year but that’s because we’ve been scoring the ball so very well. When we get back to stop trying to outscore teams and playing better defense,I think we can find ourselves winning games a lot easier.
Compared to last year’s team, what do you guys think is the advantage is going into the playoffs this year?
Just how deep we are and how confident guys are in the game. I think that’s a big difference between this year and last year. I know I can say so when it comes to myself.
What was it like heading to your first All-Star game?
It was different. I never thought I would be in that position obviously but it was an honor and I learned a lot and you learn how much respect guys have in the league have for other guys, especially first time all stars.
You’re heading to the end of your contract. Do you think you have a long future ahead of you in Chicago?
I don’t know, that’s a good question. Right now I just got to focus on this basketball thing and wherever that goes I guess that’s where I'll be. I love that, I do love the city of Chicago and I love all the work that I’ve done here in the community and I'll continue to do so. As far as my contract goes, when the summer hits we will see.
How does the team stay grounded during what appears to be a very stressful season?
We don’t have too many egos on our team. We know as quickly as things can get really great, they can also turn around and go really bad. We just try to stay level-headed and right in the middle and not get to high on ourselves or too low.
What was your own experience with childhood hunger like?
I’ve witnessed kids not eat breakfast back when I was in high school. I didn’t know how important breakfast really is like I do now. I had no idea that now 1 in 5 kids may go to school hungry.
What are you and Kellogg’s are working on?
We're working on providing a billion servings of cereals and snacks by 2016 and a million bowls of cereal during 2015.
Who is the biggest eater on the Bulls right now?
The biggest eater on the team… Nazr [Mohammed]. I’m gonna go with Nazr.
Who makes the weirdest food choices?
Joakim, Jo Jo. That’s my guy. If he’s eating cereal it's like, he could have his bowl of Frosted Flakes and then he has toast and he puts the toast in there with the cereal and I’m just like Jo you know you didn’t really have to do that, Frosted Flakes are pretty amazing by themselves. Jo is a free spirited guy as you can see.
If you had to kind of improve one part of your game and kind of take it to the next level, what would you focus on?
My half-court shooting. I need to practice my half court shots more often.
Do you often find yourself with the ball with the time running out?
No, I just want to be able to pull off a half court shot whenever I want to.