MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler had a new look for Media Day, and the NBA world immediately took notice.
The Miami Heat forward arrived for the team’s first official day of work this season with piercings — eye, lip and nose — along with a new hairstyle and his fingernails painted black.
It’s become a trend of sorts for Butler, who went through the Media Day gamut last year with dreadlocks in a deviation from his usual look.
“I’m very emotional right now. This is my emo state and I like this. This is me,” Butler said. “This is how I’m feeling as of late.”
Coaches greeted Butler with smiles and laughs. Teammates, it seemed, were caught a bit off guard. Heat center Bam Adebayo — who hadn’t seen his teammate before meeting with reporters — thought someone had photoshopped something when a reporter showed him photos of Butler’s look.
“That is not real. … That is (expletive) hilarious,” Adebayo said.
Added Heat guard Tyler Herro: “He told me this was his Halloween today.”
Still unclear: If Butler will keep the look when Miami opens practice on Tuesday. The team will hold camp at Florida Atlantic University in nearby Boca Raton.
Victor Wembanyama’s first Media Day in San Antonio was Monday, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he has a simple plan to handle all the buzz that will surround the No. 1 draft pick this season.
Pop’s plan: Just roll with it.
“You all are going to do what you do. Fans are going to do what they do,” Popovich said. “But because I know the players and because he’s got such high character and he’s used to this — this isn’t the first time that he’s gotten attention — I think just handling it organically is better.”
That said, Popovich does have a specific plan when it comes to the team’s travel arrangements.
“If there are people hanging on the top of the bus, we’ve got to get them off,” Popovich said. “Short of that, we’ll be OK.”
Also, after a summer when Wembanyama’s height was oft-discussed — 7-foot-4? 7-foot-5? — the Spurs are still listing him at 7-foot-3.
Ricky Rubio remains away from the Cleveland Cavaliers as they open camp while the Spanish guard continues focusing on his mental health.
Rubio said he was stepping away from the game this summer, when he was scheduled to play for Spain in the Basketball World Cup. There is no timetable for his return.
“We remain fully supportive of Ricky and his efforts, which for now are best continued away from the team and have excused his absence from camp,” the Cavaliers said Monday in a news release. “We remain in regular communication and consultation with Ricky and will continue to assist him in any way possible.”
The team declined further comment.
Rubio asked in early August that his “privacy be respected so that I can face these moments and be able to give more information when the time comes.”
Rubio has played in the league for 12 seasons, appearing with Minnesota, Utah, Phoenix and Cleveland. He missed the majority of the past two seasons while recovering from a torn left ACL and returned to the Cavs primarily as a reserve for 33 games at the end of last season. He began playing pro ball as a 14-year-old in Spain, nearly two decades ago.
Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball insisted he will play again despite a series of left knee surgeries that have derailed his promising career.
“I’m only 25,” he said Monday. “I feel like the rehab process has been going well so far, no setbacks. So for me, it’s just keeping my head up, just keep doing the work.”
Ball said he is about halfway through the rehab process from a cartilage transplant in March — his third operation on the knee in a little more than a year. He will miss his second consecutive season.
Ball plans to split time between Chicago and his home in Los Angeles as he works his way back. He hasn’t played since Jan. 14, 2022.
“The surgery was a really big surgery,” Ball said. “We all came together with a plan moving forward. It’s not really a set timeline, but I pretty much have this whole year to get as healthy as possible and get ready to play next season.”
Christian Koloko won’t be taking part in training camp with the Toronto Raptors. The team announced Monday that he’s still dealing with “ongoing respiratory issues” and will not participate in the workouts that start in Vancouver on Tuesday.
He averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds as a rookie last season.
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.
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