Wednesday’s seismic announcement stunned the sports world, and gave the city of Miami something else to buzz about prior to Game 3, which the Heat lost, 109–94.
When asked what he believes Messi’s arrival will mean for Miami, Butler, a well-noted soccer enthusiast, told reporters he sees nothing but good fortune in the months to come.
“A lot of good,” Butler said. “Obviously, he is one of the greatest players to play that beautiful game. I’m so excited for the city of Miami, to be able to have a player of that caliber here.
“Now that he is here, I think all the football/soccer fans from all over the world are going to come here and get an opportunity to watch him compete. So, I’m glad he’s here.”
"I'm so excited for the city of Miami, to be able to have a player of that caliber here."— NBA (@NBA) June 8, 2023
Jimmy Butler on Messi joining Inter Miami 🔊#NBAFinals presented by @YouTubeTV
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As arguably the most popular pro athlete in South Beach, Butler has certainly earned the right to be considered the “King of Miami” after leading the Heat to their second NBA Finals in four years. But, given the Argentinian superstar’s background, it’s quite possible that Messi usurps Butler for the title the moment he touches down in the city.
Like Butler, Messi sounded thrilled for the opportunity to play in Miami following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain. Shortly after the news was announced, Messi told Spanish media the desire for a change of scenery influenced his decision to join MLS.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way and to enjoy the day to day more,” Messi said, per ESPN. “Obviously, with the same responsibility and desire to play well and do things well as always. But in a calmer way.”