Butler missed his first two shot attempts before sinking a 20-footer with 9:11 left in the first quarter. You almost could hear a collective sigh of relief from the Wizards bench.
“Caron, obviously, was big for us,” Jordan said. “We kind of rallied around his toughness.”
It is that toughness that led Jordan to coin the nickname “Tough Juice” with Butler.
“I saw the first week in training camp what Caron would mean to this team,” Jordan said.
Butler spent the last week squirming on the bench, pleading with the team’s doctors and trainers to let him attempt to play.
“It was very hard to sit out while we were losing,” Butler said.
And the pull on Butler only mounted as the Wizards lost winnable games in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Yet, given the go-ahead to play against the Cavaliers, Butler was uncertain how the thumb would respond. He just knew he didn’t want to play with a taped thumb. The tape, he said, would encourage opponents to go after it.
“I started to feel like I was in a rhythm after I hit the 3-pointer,” Butler said.
By then, the outcome was decided and the Wizards were en route to their second consecutive playoff appearance.