People talk about the fall of Agent Zero, how about the fall of Tuff Juice?
Mike Prada of Bullets Forever writes “the” definitive piece on Caron Butler’s 2009-10 season, but with some historical perspective as well. Below I’ve put a great quote from the article, but the whole thing, “Caron Butler was a big part of the problem with the 2009/10 Wizards,” is much longer and is really a must-read.
So what’s the theme of Caron Butler’s season? It’s very hard to function when you’re dogged by resentment and dreams of personal success. Butler has moved on to Dallas, where he’s now shooting more than Dirk Nowitzki and generally wasting possessions like he did in DC. His game has declined with age, sure, much like other 29-year olds who have been as injury-prone as him.
But this is not your typical decline. Much like Kevin Garnett, Butler has declined while kicking and screaming about the wonder days that were. He’s the last person to accept the fact that he isn’t the player he once was. He never figured it out in DC and he doesn’t appear to have figured it out in Dallas. Worse, his decline was accelerated by lingering resentment of his co-star that only grew when that co-star started missing games. That co-star is now on a different team, but Butler still stubbornly pushes on, trying to show he deserved his past status.
And really, this is a story about how precious one’s state of mind is in this game. Butler went from being one of the league’s most unselfish and professional players to one with too big an opinion of himself that resented his teammates. It was a dramatic shift and it couldn’t have happened to a more unexpected guy. If it can happen to Butler, it can happen to anyone.