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Were Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose actually feuding in the Bulls elimination game?

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the Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler "Beef" Is bullshit

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The way in which the Chicago Bulls' season ended was, well, frustrating. It was the culmination of a season-long game of chicken. And to top it all off, losing at the hands of their arch-rival -- LeBron James -- couldn't have been more appropriate. That 94-73 Game 6 loss stunk. It was miserable and hopeless and a disaster. Anyone who watched the 2014-15 Bulls closely knew they were about as bipolar as a basketball team could possibly be, but the season couldn't have ended on uglier terms.

But what took place during that Game 6 loss at the United Center was so bad it became objectively strange. Especially the apparent passiveness of Derrick Rose with the simultaneous over-aggression of Jimmy Butler. That game inherently needed an answer, an explanation, something, so conclusions were jumped to. Chief among them being a burgeoning 'feud' amongst the Bulls star backcourt, first posited by fringe media but perpetuated by more established sources and now effectively part of the conversation surrounding the team this offseason.

Nevermind, for now, that there hadn't been even the slightest indication of a "beef" between Rose and Butler prior to that Game 6 defeat, and that they were sharing the floor for extending periods for essentially the first time. To further contextualize the alleged tension between Rose and Butler, perhaps we should let the tape of that final game do the talking, yes?

Because from my point of view, what I see here is Derrick Rose making a smart basketball play -- Butler's man had fallen out of the play, thus creating a wide-open three-pointer -- not indifference on Rose's behalf:

And while it would be fair to say Rose, on various occasions, appeared disinterested in attacking off the dribble during the latter portion of that game, what I see here is Rose applying pressure into the teeth of Cleveland's defense, which leads to an open layup (note the time and score):

While it's true Rose only had four second half shot attempts, what we also know to be true is that 12 of Rose's 16 shots came at the rim or around the paint, thus rendering any assertion of passive play rather unconvincing. To be clear, Rose is not faultless here, but to pin the totality of the fault on Rose, for supposed passive-aggressive behavior, is misguided.

Perhaps Cleveland's defense deserves far more credit than anyone (myself included) was willing to concede. And the Bulls chronic issues with spacing on offense was a more systemic problem than what can be individually pinned on Rose or Butler.

I watched clips of every shot Derrick and Jimmy took in that game (multiple times), and I didn't notice anything egregiously bad on Jimmy's part in terms of drifting over and demanding the ball. I readily admit that the second half of that game, at times, had the look and feel of some 'my turn, your turn' hijinks between them, and I don't doubt for a second that those two were fed up with the entirety of the situation. They got their asses kicked by a severely undermanned opponent, I'd imagine there was some displeasure expressed by them and the rest of the team. Hell, I'd hope there was.

The subsequent talk of a Rose and Butler "beef" reeks of unambitious reporting, if not the straight up disregarding of relevant facts. I find it weird that a report citing tension between two players would completely ignore the fact that no one on the Bulls seems to benefit more from passes made by Derrick Rose than Jimmy Butler. Seriously, Butler shot 48.3 percent on all field goals and 48.7 percent from 3-point range on passes received from Rose, according to NBA.com's SportVU player tracking data.

What's even weirder is that it's not even disputable that Rose and Butler were far-and-away the team's best players during the playoffs. Everything hinged on those two performing at a high level, and if they didn't, well, you get results like Game 6. Sometimes, these things aren't as complicated as we'd like them to be, and one half of a playoff game isn't enough of a sample size for me to jump to a sweeping, decidedly rhetorical conclusion.

Yes, as I've stated, one could impartially critique Rose or Butler's play in the second half of that Game 6. For example, Butler putting his head down attacking the basket, which in turn misses a streaking Rose, is obviously a bad basketball play:

[If you couldn't tell by that one vine I have, my video capability is super shitty, so intentionally I am trying to limit the use of video in this post.]

But after compiling a season's worth of data, there's little evidence which would support the idea Rose and Butler are uncomfortable sharing the ball with one another. On the court, I just don't see a problem. It's possible Rose and Butler aren't the closest of personal friends off the court and have superstar egos, but like Butler himself said: losing persists rumors.

Hey, if the mission of  a 'beef' report was to generate some chatter through a melodramatic offseason storyline, mission accomplished!  Like, Butler has actually had to speak on the alleged rift, multiple times. Rose, for his part, hasn't been anywhere near the media, which is probably for the best. But of course, once Rose is back for training camp, he'll be fielding those obnoxiously simplistic questions which await him. This thing isn't going away any time soon, unfortunately.

As when the basketball part of the equation is removed from the formula, rumors like this run rampant. But instead of speculation serving as clickbait, one can break out empirical evidence like this:

Color me a skeptic, that's fine. Color me apologetic towards two very good basketball players who, given more time together, have a real chance at accomplishing some great things -- that's fine, too. But as it stands, there's no other way to phrase it, my friends: any on-court "beef" between Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler is bullshit at its finest.