KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brad Ball, the current boys basketball coach at Olathe West High School, has a pretty good reason to cheer for NBA superstar Jimmy Butler, and it has nothing to do with Butler leading the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference finals.
"You know, people ask me who my favorite NBA team is and my answers always the same, it's whoever Jimmy [Butler] plays for," said Ball.
Ball formerly coached Butler at Tomball High School in Texas.
"He is the best player I've ever been around," said Ball.
Back in high school, Ball said Butler was good but small and much younger than everyone else in his class.
"He came in, he was a freshman, probably 5'7", you know he just kept growing over the course of his time there," said Ball.
It was Butler's dedication and competitiveness that Ball said made him a special player.
"I think I helped foster his love of the game, just in the sense that if he wanted to get into the gym, he could," said Ball.
Butler played at Tyler Junior College before moving on to Marquette University. He was then drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls.
On May 17, Butler became the first player in NBA history to record at least 35 points, six assists, and six steals in a conference finals game. That performance is just another accomplishment he can add to his growing list.
"He's the only guy I've coached that's been an Olympian, a gold medalist, an NBA All-Star, has been in the NBA finals, he's just a fantastic player and he's the most competitive guy that I've ever coached," said Ball.
Ball told KSHB 41 that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be in Butler's future. Right now, he'd like to see his former player win his first NBA Championship.
"Hopefully, he'll get the ultimate prize of winning a championship this year," said Ball.