The Miami Heat‘s victory against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night was special for Erik Spoelstra’s team as it’s starting to improve its record this season. But for Jimmy Butler it had a special meaning as LeBron James was also on the floor.

Following the Heat’s tight 108-107 victory, the 34-year-old shared his true feelings about having the opportunity to face the King on multiple occasions. Before moving to Miami, Butler already knew what it’s like to play against LeBron. They may have faced each other with different uniforms, but there’s something that never changed (apart from James’ talent): Butler’s respect.

I respect LeBron so much, arguably the greatest player of all-time. And I really enjoy going up against him all these years. No matter what uniform he was in, it was always a constant battle,” Butler said, via Zachary Weinberger of ClutchPoints. “I will say he’s gotten the best of me when it counts. But I think it’s a privilege to be able to play against him, to be able to guard him, just being able to compete and learn so much at the same time. But more often than not, just competing.”

Butler’s biggest showdown against LeBron came in the 2020 NBA Finals, when James’ Lakers beat the Heat 4-1 in the Orlando bubble. Many years later, Jimmy Buckets is still looking for a highly desired ring with Miami.

Miami craving for first ring since LeBron’s exit

The Heat have managed to be competitive in the last few years, but they haven’t really succeeded since LeBron James left South Beach. In 2014, The King decided to go back to Cleveland after helping Miami win two rings in four years.

James was part of the franchise’s golden years, forming a mighty Big Three next to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The trio failed to go the distance in 2011, losing the Mavericks in the Finals, but they came back with back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

LeBron and company came close to making it three in a row, but the San Antonio Spurs got the upper hand. James walked away after those Finals, and the Heat had to wait until 2020 to have such a deep playoff run again.

Butler looking for a highly desired championship with the Heat

Butler’s arrival in 2019 has allowed the Heat to have championship aspirations again. Except for a first-round exit to eventual champions Milwaukee Bucks, the team has constantly made deep playoff runs since then, with two trips to the NBA Finals and a loss in the Conference Finals.

Butler’s ability to put this team on his back became clear last year, when he carried the eight-seeded Heat to an unlikely Eastern Conference championship with epic triumphs against East powerhouses.

SURVEY Will Jimmy Butler win a ring in Miami?

Will Jimmy Butler win a ring in Miami?

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However, Nikola Jokic’s Nuggets were simply too much for Miami, who seemed to lack another star to help Butler and Bam Adebayo. Damian Lillard was expected to fill in that hole this offseason, but the Blazers sent him to Milwaukee.

The Heat didn’t get off to a strong start this season, but they’re already trying to get back on track. With two straight wins under their belts, Butler and company are 3-4, so there’s still plenty of work to do.

Other teams in the East seem to be in a stronger position to contend this year. But if there’s something that this Heat team has shown us, is that we should never write them off, regardless of how they perform in the regular season. As long as they make the playoffs, they should always have reasons to believe.