The Miami Heat made one of the biggest free-agent acquisitions this offseason when they signed Jimmy Butler. The NBA star was certainly at the top of the free-agent class. But one surprising fact about Butler is that he has a fear of open water and boats.
It’s for a logical reason, and recently Butler faced his fear for the first time since an earlier incident when he played in Minnesota.
Jimmy Butler’s path to Miami
Butler spent his first six seasons in Chicago before the Bulls traded him to Minnesota. Things didn’t go well there; only 10 games into his second season with the T’Wolves, the team traded Butler to Philadelphia.
The small forward/shooting guard caused a lot of problems on his way out of Minnesota, getting a reputation for being difficult. He signed with Miami following last season, which is where he plays now.
Throughout all his stops, one consistent component has been Butler’s fear of bodies of water. Chicago and Philadelphia are mostly landlocked while Minnesota has numerous lakes. Miami is on the ocean. So when someone asked Butler to take a trip on the water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the results were rather predictable.
Butler’s fear of boats goes viral
Two years ago, for a piece produced by ESPN, Butler took a canoe out on a Minnesota lake. He admitted he’s unable to swim, and his worst fear was realized when the canoe tipped over and he fell in. Butler was in comically shallow water, and all that was hurt was his pride.
Two years later, Butler tried to get in the water again. This time in the ocean near Miami. Despite loudly protesting throughout the experience, he managed to not fall in the water.
Butler provided an honest but impossible-to-disagree-with assessment of how he handled being in water: “Man, let me tell you something. I know what I’m good at, and being in water … I’m not good at.”
For as fearless as Butler plays on the court, it was hilarious to see how vulnerable he was in the water. It begs the question: What other peculiar fears do NBA players have? It turns out there are quite a few.
Other NBA players’ fears
FadeawayWorld.com compiled a list of seven unusual fears for NBA players. They’re summarized below, as it’s clear Butler isn’t the only player who has a unique phobia:
- Royce White, formerly of the Houston Rockets, had a paralyzing fear of flying. His phobia essentially kept him out of the league.
- Kobe Bryant has a fear of dog poop that goes back to a time when Bryant stepped in feces while wearing an expensive pair of sneakers. Of course, no one actually likes to step in it, but Bryant’s hatred for it goes beyond the pale.
- Damian Lillard has a fear of statues. According to Lillard, statues of major historical figures, like Martin Luther King Jr. or Jesus, give him a “funny feeling.”
- Nick Young was once afraid of dolphins. But his fear didn’t last; he posted an Instagram picture of himself with a dolphin, adding, “I gave these dolphins another chance we cool now.”
- Derrick Rose has a phobia of needles. This is understandable as many people hate to feel a pinprick at the doctor’s office. But Rose’s neurosis has actually left him in tears before.
- Russell Westbrook has a fear of loose hair.
- Tim Duncan is afraid of sharks. He grew up in the Virgin Islands and it kept him from a potential career as a swimmer.
Butler isn’t alone. It turns out NBA players have weird phobias just like the rest of society.
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