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Everson Griffen & Vikings Welcome Jimmy Butler to U.S. Bank Stadium

Posted Jun 28, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS – Less than a week after arriving in Minnesota, Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler stopped in to check out his new neighbors’ digs.

Formerly with the Chicago Bulls, Butler was acquired by the Timberwolves via trade during the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22.

Butler, along with Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, visited U.S. Bank Stadium Wednesday morning. Everson Griffen swapped in his helmet to play tour guide, and the pair of athletes exchanged stories, experiences and a little bit of trash talk.

Griffen, ribbed the 231-pound Butler, who measures four inches taller but 42 pounds lighter than Griffen. When called “skinny” by the defensive end, however, Butler just laughed and countered that he’s built to play wide receiver.

“I can see myself playing wideout here, so if ya’ll need me, you can contact [Coach] Thibodeau,” quipped Butler as he stood on the field.

“I love football. I will be at so many of these games, I promise you that,” Butler added. “The atmosphere has to be crazy … when everything opens up, the noise, I gotta be a part of that.”

The group was accompanied by Lester Bagley, Vikings Executive VP of Public Affairs & Stadium Development, who answered questions and shared unique details about U.S. Bank Stadium, which is approaching the one-year anniversary of its grand opening.

Butler was given a behind-the-scenes look at several spaces inside the stadium, including Mystic Lake’s Club Purple, the Delta Sky360 Club and the Founder’s Lounge. The guard especially enjoyed the latter space, from the lighting and classy design down to the white fur adorning some of the lounge seating.    

As he walked through the Thompson-Reuters press box, Butler smiled ear-to-ear when he caught a glimpse of the “Welcome Jimmy Butler” graphic displayed on the video boards on either end of the stadium.

The experience highlighted a transition to the Twin Cities that Butler said has gone smoothly.

“This is a big-time sports city. This town is always coming out and showing love and support for their respective teams,” said Butler, a native of Tomball, Texas. “I’m a fan of these guys as much as anybody else is. I love when people want to be great at their craft – that’s so much fun to me.”

In full-Everson Griffen fashion, the defensive end had plenty of fun showing Butler around, even belting out an impression of the Gjallarhorn on the instrument’s platform.

“I like him already, man. We’re going to definitely get along,” Butler said of Griffen. “We’ll probably spend a lot of time with one another. I think he’s a great guy … and I thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to walk with me around the stadium.”

Griffen equally appreciated the chance to meet Minnesota’s newest shooting guard.

Timberwolves fans have occasionally spotted Griffen courtside at the Target Center, and like so many of them, Griffen is thrilled to have Butler trading in red for blue-and-green.

“Man, he’s one of the best players in the NBA,” Griffen said. “He’s going to bring a lot of dynamics to the Timberwolves. We’re excited to see him with [Andrew] Wiggins and [Karl-Anthony] Towns … It’s going to be an exciting season for both of us.”

Thibodeau, entering his second season with the Wolves, was grateful for the opportunity to finally step inside U.S. Bank Stadium.

He marveled at the ETFE roof and the individual design of each club, saying it gave the feel of a “fancy restaurant” for fans enjoying the Vikings game from the comfort of a suite.

“It was just incredible. I’ve heard so much about it, but to actually be here [was fantastic],” Thibodeau said. “The Vikings were so gracious to show us around, and Everson’s tour was off-the-charts. We’re thrilled, and we certainly appreciate it.”

Bagley and Griffen capped off the tour with a walk through the Vikings locker room. Griffen pointed out his locker – currently empty – but Butler was most concerned with finding the receivers’ area of the room to snap a photo in front of.

“I got a football to take home with me and practice my secondary craft,” Butler said. “And you can catch me here in the fall.”

He added: “This is my new home, and I’m going to support this city with all that I have.”

Griffen and Butler may play different sports, but they shared the same goal as they parted ways Wednesday.

“Let’s turn up this year,” Griffen said. “Let’s get that championship on both sides.”