February 25, 2010
Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post did a Pulitzer-worthy exposé on "The Straw Man" in 2007, citing Butler's favorite straws (McDonald's, Burger King), how many he goes through a game (believe it or not, 12!), and when and why it all started (he switched from toothpicks to straws back in '98). Fascinating read.
But, today, the chewing stops.
As first reported by DallasBasketball.com, and confirmed by ESPN Dallas, the NBA has ordered Butler to stop chewing straws on the court.
Pour out a little Mountain Dew, friends.
NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson phoned Butler on Tuesday and told him to leave his straws at home. Butler did not play against the Los Angeles Lakers due to a reaction to medication, so he was unavailable for comment.
But the Mavs confirmed that the league is serious about outlawing straw chewing.
"It's against the rules," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.
The NBA's official explanation: it's a "safety issue." League spokesman Tim Frank told Tom Ziller of FanHouse that Butler can chew all the straws he wants on the bench — just not any during game play.
This, of course, makes sense. I mean, chewing on plastic straws while running and jumping is definitely a choking hazard. I don't need kids who swallow LEGO blocks like grapes to know that much.
But the real question is why the ban now? Butler's been chewin' for years. To quote his teammate Brendan Haywood(notes), "If he ain't choked by now, he ain't gonna choke." The Baseline must be right — David Stern's only course of action to swing the balance of power back to his Lakers ratings darlings was to deprive Butler of his precious straws. Crafty move, Stern. Crafty move.