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Mile High Morning: Jimmy Butler remembers late friend Demaryius Thomas ahead of NBA Finals


The Lead

The city of Denver will be cheering hard for the Nuggets when the NBA Finals begin on Thursday.

The Nuggets are in pursuit of their first NBA title, and they'll face the Miami Heat as they stand just four wins away from a championship.

Yet while Miami's Jimmy Butler will be the Nuggets' main adversary during the series, he also holds close ties to the late Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas and has attended several Broncos games.

Butler and Thomas first connected in 2014 after the then-Bulls star read about the struggles Thomas went through during his childhood. Butler, too, had overcome challenges during his youth — and he saw similarities between himself and Thomas.

The two quickly formed a bond; less than a year after they met, Butler said Thomas was like a brother to him.

Now in Denver for the NBA Finals, Butler said he wishes his friend was here to watch him play on the game's biggest stage.

"That's my guy, my brother forever," Butler told reporters Wednesday. "I miss him so much. I spent so much time here with him, watching him be great. He motivated me, because his story is really, really incredible through everything that he's been through to make it and do what he did for the Broncos. I actually have a lot of love for this city. I miss that guy. 

"I wish he was here to sit courtside and watch me do my thing, because we talked about this all the time. Maybe not Denver vs. my team, but just being able to watch me win a championship like he did."

While Nuggets fans will hope Butler falls short in that pursuit, his connection with Thomas remains worth cheering for.

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