Caron Butler: "I'm not flashy at all, I just get the job done"
You're having a terrific season. You're averaging over 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. The only other players who are doing this are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Do you feel you can put your name in that elite group?
Caron Butler: I have. Just by putting up the numbers. It is real rewarding and heart-felt when you look at that because you know where you came from. As far as starting at the bottom and coming up to the top like that and putting in the work and now you are starting to reap all the benefits from the work you put in.
CB: The most talented…Wow. That is a tough one right there. They are all so special, but at the same time, who would be the best? I would say Kobe just because of the three championships, but Gilbert, you know, is just 26 years old. He is unbelievable and obviously Dwyane Wade is as well.
You have improved your game every year since coming into the NBA. Last year, you became an All-Star for the first time. This year you raised your 3-point shooting to 36 percent. What can you get better at?
CB: I’m just going to continue to find something to improve on. If my 3-point percentage is below 40%, I can improve on that. My ball-handling can get better, my points in the paint can get better. There are so many things I can improve on.
Speaking of the All-Star Game, you came in seventh place in the Eastern Conference All-Star voting for forwards this season. Do you think you will ever get the hype other players of your talent level gets?
CB: I’m not flashy in what I do. I just get it done. I am one of those guys, when you look at the box score at the end of the game, you say ‘Caron had one hell of a night.’ I am not flashy at all. I just get the job done.
They call you "Tough Juice'' because of your toughness. Do you like that nickname? And has it ever caused friction with a teammate?
CB: It’s a nice name to have. The coaching staff started calling me it. The crowd digested it. Now everyone is yelling ‘Tough Juice,’ ‘Caronamo,’ and Caron. I got so many things going on out there. It’s obvious I finally found a home.
The Wizards have banned you from drinking Mountain Dew. Why did they do that? And are you still upset about that?
CB: I’m still upset but I know it is for my own good. The main reason is to get you off drinking soda during the course of the season. Obviously, it is just not good for you as an athlete.
You are averaging over 40 minutes a game. Are the big minutes taking a toll on your body?
CB: It is, but it isn’t. I prepared myself for this mentally and physically for this challenge throughout the offseason.
Both you and Antawn Jamison are playing outstanding and the Wizards are winning. Some observers believe the team chemistry will be hurt when Gilbert Arenas returns. Do you have any fears that this will happen?
CB: I don’t think about that because he is such a great player. You know he is going to come back and blend in and mesh in. Over the course of the season, he will find his way the way all great players can. You put them on any court in America and they will find their way.
If your team is completely healthy, how far can it go in the playoffs?
CB: I’m thinking championship. That is the main goal. Win a championship.
You helped the Wizards beat the Celtics in recent back-to-back games. What's the secret for your success against them?
CB: Continue to play aggressive, continue to play hard-nose basketball. Obviously, the atmosphere was a playoff atmosphere. We went in there and just played good sound defense and won the games.
While many star athletes spend their off-seasons traveling to exotic climes, you have spent much of your summers in your hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, playing pickup ball at the YMCA. What makes it so appealing to spend your offseason in Racine?
CB: I love the YMCA. I’m just a chip off the old block, I’m just a regular dude. I am an average Joe and I do not want to be treated any differently. I just like to do the same things I used to do before I ran into this unbelievable wealth. I just try to act as naturally as possible.
With you being in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. so much, and with the presidential primaries going on, have you decided on which candidate you’ll vote for?
CB: Not yet. I really like Barack (O’Bama) and Hilary (Clinton). As a parent, I am going to look at educational resources and everything and where they are going with that. It will go down to the wire before I make my pick.
I understand you used to play football when you were younger. Who are you picking in the Super Bowl: Patriots or Giants?
CB: I’m going to go with the Patriots
There are stories of Arenas sneaking off in the middle of the night to play pickup games in different NBA cities. Do you ever venture out with him?
CB: The only time I sneak out and go to the gym for late-night workouts are when I come to Wisconsin and Chicago. I drive down to the Bray Center (in Racine) and get a workout in.
What song do you listen when you are getting fired up for the game?
CB: I will have to say Kanye West’s “Stronger.”
Why did you stop wearing the headband last year?
CB: I wanted everyone to see my face more. It is like the football players with the helmets. Sometimes people don’t recognize you without the headband. You walk in the door and they are like ‘Is that?’ and you say ‘Yea, it is that.’
Can you run the fryer at your Burger King franchises?
CB: I can run anything in there. I worked that Burger King for 2 years.
You have made a franchise-record 70 straight free throws. The all-time NBA record is 97 by Michael Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. What do you think of that?
CB: It looks good. I got a nice rhythm. I’m on line right now.
You have donated nearly a thousand bikes for children in Racine and Washington, D.C. Why the bikes?
CB: It was an idea that came about when my cousin, Richard Butler Jr., had his bike stolen off my grandma’s porch. I called the police and they responded. They said there was a desperate need for bikes because a lot of bikes were getting stolen. I was like it would be a great idea if we had joint efforts with Wal-Mart that we could get everyone in the community bikes. The kids love it. It’s a positive response from the community and something I can do for the years to come. Hopefully, it will get to other things. We do the turkeys and the coats and so many other things. We are just trying to get it bigger and better.
Joseph Woelfel is a sophomore at Marquette University in Milwaukee and is making his debut for HoopsHype.com
Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com