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Butler’s toe a pain in more than one sense
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Nov 22
It’s one thing to be sidelined with an injury. But it’s being away from his teammates that is killing Bulls guard/forward Jimmy Butler.
With the Bulls in the midst of a six-game road trip that started Thursday in Denver, Butler remains in Chicago with a sprain to his right great toe, an injury commonly known as turf toe.
Butler, averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.78 steals in 29.8 minutes, said the injury occurred in the third quarter of Monday’s 86-81 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
After Derrick Rose found an open Butler with a skip pass, Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson closed in on defense as Butler made a move to his left, pushing off his right foot.
“As soon as I drove, it felt like my toe came out of its shoe,” said Butler on Friday afternoon. “I knew something was messed up.”
“At first, it wasn’t bad because my adrenaline was still kicking in from the game,” Butler continued. “But as I told Fred [Tedeschi] in the morning, ‘Something’s not right.’ That next day was brutal. I woke up and I couldn’t put any weight on it. I still can’t really now. My foot just blew up, not only my big toe, but all of them.”
Subsequent X-rays and an MRI taken Tuesday afternoon didn’t reveal any broken bones, but that news offered no silver lining to Butler.
“I was mad,” said Butler of his diagnosis. “I don’t want to miss any games and I don’t want to miss any practices. I don’t want to not be able to travel. I love being around the team and I don’t like not being able to go to war with them every night. It keeps me up at night where I can’t sleep. I’m still talking to all my guys, but it’s messing with me mentally. It’s hard for me because this is what I love to do.”
For Butler, who had never missed a regular season game due to injury until Thursday night as the Bulls took on the Nuggets, it’s a new challenge for him to face. As he works towards a return to action, the first phase will primarily consist of treatment and rest until the swelling subsides.
“Right now, we’re just trying to reduce the swelling,” said Butler, who continues to wear a walking boot. “Once the swelling goes down, it will start to heal a lot faster. It’s all about getting a little mobility in the toe with help from my physical therapist. Movement will be the next step and before long I’ll be able to put more and more pressure on it. But the swelling is what makes it really sensitive.”
In the meantime, Butler is still able to lift weights and maintain his conditioning, the latter done by riding a stationary bike and peddling with pressure on the middle of his foot without bending his toe.
Butler himself isn’t sure of a timetable for when he might return.
“I really don’t know to tell you the truth,” stated Butler. “I think everyone knows I want to come back as soon as possible. But I also can’t rush it. I know how serious it is and how you can get it again. As soon as I’m ready, I’ll be back. I think we could win a championship this year and I want to help. I’m not saying they won’t be able to do it without me because I think we’re a pretty good team either way.”
In the meantime, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau will look to his team’s depth to step up in Butler’s absence. Mike Dunleavy started in Butler’s place on Thursday and Kirk Hinrich is also being asked to fulfill a greater role.
“Everybody is capable,” said Butler. “My teammates work so hard and they’re in the gym all the time. It’s just a matter of different guys stepping into a role. It will change up the lineup and what guys do on the floor, but we’ll be OK. I know they’re going to have a great road trip. As long as they play hard and keep doing what they’re doing, we’ll be fine.
“It’s tough enough being out, but I can’t stand not being with my team,” added Butler. “It’s the absolute worst feeling that I can’t be there even to cheer my guys on. When someone takes a charge or we get a big stop, I want to get up off the bench. You see Joakim [Noah] yelling or Taj [Gibson] gets a big dunk, that’s the stuff I live for and that’s the best thing about this team. We’re not selfish and we all want to be around each other.”