A short time ago, Caron Butler, Wes Unseld Sr. and Wes Unseld Jr. just wrapped up an appearance at Tony Cheng’s, discussing the Wizards’ upcoming trip to China as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Bullets initial trip.
Two things are clear in talking to Butler: A) He’s ecstatic to be granted the opportunity to travel with and spend 10 straight days with Wes Unseld Sr., whom he greatly admires. B) He’s more eager than ever to kick off the 2009-10 season.
As soon as he arrived at Tony Cheng’s, which neighbors Verizon Center, Butler made a beeline to Unseld Sr., and told him how excited he was about the trip. Just before Butler arived, Unseld was talking informally to members of the media, and was asked about the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and what kind of a collection of memorabilia from the old days he still has. Unseld shockingly, hasn’t been to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame since he was enshrined in 1988. He joked, “I didn’t like those guys I played against back then, so why would I want to see their pictures again?”
He laughed at the memorability question and said “you mean a bunch of junk?” He said Wes Jr. has taken most of his old jerseys since he has no use for them. Butler told Unseld Sr. that those jerseys are prized possessions and that he has one himself. Unseld Sr. was shocked, and joked that in that case, if he could figure out how to turn on a computer, he’d get them back from his son and sell them on eBay.
As Unseld was called away to do an interview for a publication from China, Butler shook his head in amazement. “Can you imagine him back in the day? All he did? And he’s my size!”
Butler said he plans on picking Unseld’s brain in regards to his path to a championship in 1978 and the key to his Hall of Fame career. He also is eager for the opportunity to not only teach young athletes in China the game of basketball, but also to impact their lives in some way.
“Basketball has taken me out of a drastic situation, taken my family out of drastic situations… Basketball saved my life and it’s helping me help others and be a pillar in my community,” Butler said. “If I can continue to do that through basketball, so be it. I want to be a guy that transcends the game. I don’t want to be looked at as just a basketball player. I want to invest in lives.”
Butler looked trimmer than ever and it’s because he has lost 10 pounds since last season ended. He took two weeks off then hit the gym again, working on his explosiveness and strengthening his core. He said expect a big season from both him and Gilbert Arenas, whom he visited in Chicago a few weeks ago. He described Agent Zero as “spectacular.” He also said he has been impressed with Flip Saunders and how the new coach is working to build a relationship with his players. Butler said he texts and talks to Saunders regularly. Saunders also invited Butler to Minnesota to watch the Vikings training camp, but Butler “told him, I’m a Redskins fan, I can’t do that. But he’s just been great. He’s so open, and really working to build relationships. I got a good feeling about this season.”
Butler also said when he returns from China on the 15th of Sept., he will be traveling to Chicago to train with Arenas at Tim Grover’s facility. Then, the two will return to the District just before media day on Sept. 28, and then head for training camp on Sept. 29.