James Johnson may have taken a shot at his former team following the Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old, who was traded from the Miami Heat ahead of last month’s trade deadline, was kicked out of the team’s training camp for not being in requisite shape before the start of the current season, and he wasn’t included in Erik Spoelstra’s lineup until the sixth game of the term.
Whether or not his roller-coaster Heat campaign has left him feeling sour is something for Johnson to get into, but he certainly appeared to have had a go at Miami when speaking to reporters after the 115-108 loss this week.
“Every day you see guys in films and pre-practice, just the little things that you can see that they want to get better. We keep that same work ethic. We don’t have no fake gym rats in here, we’ll be good,” he declared, per the StarTribune.
Asked to clarify what he meant by “fake gym rat,” he replied:
“I don’t see any in here,” Johnson said. “It’s those guys that have a good game and then the next day they’ll be in the gym shooting. But if they have a bad game, you won’t see them. You might see them for the first two weeks, getting extra shots. And then you might not see them again. Those are the fake gym rats, man. It’s been consistent in here.”
The claim has likely left fans wondering just who Johnson was referring to. Jimmy Butler is perhaps the player most would consider a gym rat back in Miami and there’s no doubt his would be the name that would command the most attention if his former teammate was actually taking a dig at him. But Johnson claimed to have lots of admiration for Butler when the T-Wolves played in Miami last month.
“I loved him,” he said, via the Miami Herald. “I love his work ethic. I love what he stands for. Sometimes, he can be misconstrued. But me personally, one of the best teammates I ever had.
“He’s not for everybody. But I think what made him a great teammate for this situation, this organization and to me is he came into something that he felt was like him. Just like myself, I learned different things on my way to get to Minnesota that I don’t think that I would be able to help Minnesota with if I didn’t go through. But like I said, Jimmy when he got here was totally different than anything I’ve ever read on him.”
Butler has never shied away from speaking about his insane work ethic and you’d struggle to find someone who’d accuse him of lying. Our guess is this was probably aimed at someone trying to follow the former 76ers star, but without the consistency.