Derrick Rose helped Karl-Anthony Towns get through his spats with Jimmy Butler earlier this season, according to University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Rose walked Towns through his rough patch with Butler before he was traded to the Sixers. Of course, Towns and Rose (over at Memphis) both played under Calipari in their college days.
"I bet that environment was so uncomfortable for him," Calipari said in an interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "First of all, he and Jimmy are totally different people—how they were brought up, their likes and dislikes, how they approach competition. You have one guy on this side and one guy on the other side. There was a dogfight, and Karl's not one to get into that. So, he stepped back."
Calipari didn't go so far as to say that Butler was wrong for his intense approach. He said that it was just a natural end to the competitive nature of the league.
"Things happen. There are power struggles all the time in [the NBA]. If a guy can bully you, he will bully you," he said. "And that's what Jimmy did to Karl. C'mon, that's the league."
Butler didn't take kindly to Calipari's characterization of him as a terror. Though he started out by saying that Calipari was misreading the situation, he ended it essentially asking Calipari to meet him at the flagpole.
"I don't care if he's some big head coach. I'm not bullying nobody. I'm just keeping it real. Some of these guys aren't used to it," he said. "When you have as much talent as [Karl] has had throughout his life, guys don't keep it real with him. I do."
"He can call me a bully, but when [Calipari] sees me, I'm gonna confront him about it," he continued. "If I'm a bully, I'm gonna bully him, too. I'll tell him how I feel, just like I'd tell anyone else."
Rose told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan that he was a source of constructive criticism for Towns, noting a game earlier in the season where KAT only attempted 10 shots. Rose said that he was honest, making it plain that the team needed "more" out of their marquee player. Rose said that Towns was great at taking feedback into consideration.
"He's so mindful of everything I've told him," he said. "So many young guys are stubborn, hard-headed. They know everything. KAT's not like that. He listens."