James Caron Butler simply couldn't control his emotions anymore.
Emotions that had been building up for years, maybe even decades, were about to explode within him like an erupting volcano.
After toiling in the NBA for nine years and never seriously coming close to winning a title, the Racine native was on the brink of one.
"At the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter, I just started to cry," Butler said, referring to the Dallas Mavericks' victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last Sunday in Miami. "We were up by 12 points and I knew we were going to be the world champions.
"It was an unbelievable feeling."
Butler didn't stop crying there, either. More than 20 minutes later, while his giddy teammates were wildly celebrating in the Mavs' locker room, a teary-eyed Butler slumped over by a locker, away from the madness. He pulled out his cell phone and called the one person whom he so desperately wanted to share this special moment.
"I told her, 'Momma, we got it ... Momma, we got it,' " Butler said his call to his mother, Mattie Paden. "She's been with me the whole way.
"People don't understand what it took to get here. People have the assumption that athletes are talented and this just happens. It doesn't.
"She saw the countless hours of sacrificing, the around the clock work, the battling through adversity.
"She remembers all the times at the Dr. John Bryant Center and at Stephen Bull. She remembers all the times I was imitating Michael Jordan in the Finals.
"She used to let me stay out playing basketball until the street lights came on and then I had to be on the (house) porch.
"She knows what this championship means to me. It's been a long journey."
Indeed, it has. Butler, whose life seemed to be over before it even started when he was arrested multiple times and served time in a detention center as a youth, has slowly but surely ascended to the mountaintop of his profession.
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Racine Journal-Times | Jun 21