When Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle and owner Mark Cuban presented Butler with his 2011 NBA championship ring he won as a member of the Mavericks, he slowly walked to center court to accept it, his steps measured, his feeling showing.
Butler patted his chest and waved to the crowd that gave him a standing ovation at American Airlines Center and then he did all he could to help the Clippers beat the Mavericks, his final potential game-winning three-pointer missing, sending L.A. to a 96-92 defeat.
All Butler could do was smile and shake his head.
He had scored a season-high 23 points on seven-for-18 shooting, five for 10 on three-pointers. He also had eight rebounds.
But it was that missed three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left and the Clippers trailing, 94-92, that left Butler wondering what might have been.
"It was a routine shot," Butler said. "It just fell a little short."
Butler played one-plus seasons with the Mavericks. He was injured Jan. 1, 2011, limiting him to just 29 games before season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured right patella tendon in his knee.
Even though Butler signed a free-agent contract with the Clippers in December, the Mavericks had a moving ceremony for him right before the game started.
"It was very emotional," Butler said. "I didn't think I was going to be as emotional...I almost cried. I had to put my head down a couple of times to try to gather myself."
Bledsoe surprised to play
He didn't expect to play until the Clippers finished their six-game trip and played Wednesday night against Washington at Staples Center.
Bledsoe had tweaked the same right knee on which he had off-season surgery to repair a torn cartilage.
"I'm an explosive player and I can't really explode right now," Bledsoe said. "I can do everything else. I think it's going to come. I can feel the rhythm coming back."
Bledsoe didn't play against Dallas.
"He just needs time," Del Negro said. "It's just hard to get him the minutes he probably deserves. Also, we just want to be a little cautious bringing him back because it has been a difficult injury for him."