Updated Apr 16, 2024 - News

"Playoff Jimmy" inspires new NBA ad. But Heat star got snubbed

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) reacts after scoring against the Milwaukee Bucks during the fourth quarter of Game 4 in the first-round NBA Playoffs

Jimmy Butler scowls after scoring against the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Last year, Miami Heat reporter Brady Hawk asked star forward Jimmy Butler about "Playoff Jimmy" — a nickname Butler earned for his heroics in the run-up to an NBA Finals appearance. Butler said, "It's not a thing."

Why it matters: Now, the NBA is rolling out a promo video for the playoffs featuring language that is strikingly similar: "Playoff mode. It's a thing."

  • The only difference? Butler isn't featured in it — and some Heat fans have taken to social media to call the organization out.

What they're saying: Within an hour of the NBA posting the video to X, dozens of users flooded the comments to point out Butler's absence.

  • "How does one create a minute-long playoff promo birthed from 'Playoff Jimmy' and not include Playoff Jimmy," wrote one user.
  • "They really stole Jimmy's whole gimmick," wrote another.

Five Reasons Sports Network, the local news outlet where Hawk works, tweeted at the NBA that he would be "accepting your royalties."

Yes, but: The Heat aren't technically in the playoffs — yet. First, they need to win the Play-In Tournament, which begins tonight.

  • All of the players featured in the ad — including Heat archrivals Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets — are on teams that have already made the playoffs.
  • However, the ad will debut during the first round of the Play-In Tournament tonight.
  • NBA chief marketing officer Tammy Henault said in a statement that the ad campaign "plays on the idea that the playoffs unlock an elevated version of all of us."

Hawk tells Axios the ad was clearly inspired — word for word — by his press conference exchange with Butler last April after he torched the top-seeded Bucks for a franchise playoff record 56 points en route to a series win.

  • "Jimmy Butler is the exact type of player the league should love to promote," Hawk says in an X direct message. "Draws viewership this time of year, a headline maker off the court, and just a hilarious troll."
  • "But being a semi-villain for this Heat organization seems to lead to a lack of credit across the board."

The bottom line: This may give Butler some extra motivation for another deep playoff run. It's definitely inspiring Hawk.

  • "Jimmy and I were snubbed. Time to lock in," he wrote on X.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add comments from Brady Hawk.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Miami.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Miami stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Miami.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more