Heat

Butler Keeps His Receipts

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Moments after sending the Philadelphia 76ers to Cancun in a dramatic Game 6 victory, Jimmy Butler gave a humble TV interview with ESPN’s Jorge Sedano.

In the brief exchange, he spoke highly of Joel Embiid and even mentioned he wished they were still on the same team. To the average NBA fan, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe even a little heartwarming.

Not even sixty seconds later, a few cameras and a hot mic captured a different version of Butler as he was heading into the locker room. To the chagrin of Philly fans and the front office, he uttered four words that had to have stung the life out of the city.

Tobias Harris over me?”.

This, of course, refers to the Sixers’ decision to pay Harris $180 million while letting Butler walk back in the summer of 2019.

To be fair, there was a lot more to the story than the Sixers simply choosing Harris over Butler. After all, the front office had a bevy of tough questions to answer heading into the 2020 campaign. Questions such as, ‘could Ben Simmons survive off-ball minutes with Butler on the floor?’ and ‘is anyone on the roster capable of slowing down a surging, first-time MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo?

All valid questions that required answers.

Ultimately, the Sixers’ brass came to the conclusion that allocating their money to other needs would strengthen their chances of ascending the NBA’s pecking order. Butler was subsequently traded to the Miami Heat, where he signed a four-year, $184 million contract at 31 years of age.

The decision was instantly criticized. Sixers fans, along with the national media, took turns sounding off on social media, namely Twitter. Astonishingly enough, all of the hate seemed to be going towards Butler, not the Sixers’ front office. He was accused of choosing money and warm weather over winning actual basketball games.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this nearly two-minute montage of tweets.

That brings us to the present day. Since leaving for Miami three seasons ago, Butler has willed the Heat to two Eastern Conference Finals appearances, including a trip to the 2020 NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the Sixers have failed to make it out of the second round once and were even swept in the first round in 2020.

“Tobias Harris over me?”.

Packed into those four measly words was a cluster of emotion. This was more than simply winning a playoff game and advancing to the next round. It was personal.

Butler’s postgame dig is significant because it was essentially the nail in the coffin. He gracefully walked into the Wells Fargo Center and put an end to a broken, fragmented term dubbed ‘The Process’. Imagine how it must’ve felt for Butler to drill a dagger three from the corner with just over five minutes remaining. A shot that ignited a covetous Philadelphia crowd to boo the team’s effort, or lack thereof.

Oh, the irony!

In the end, the Sixers will be watching the playoffs from the comfort of their home, while Butler and the Heat seek their second NBA Finals appearance in the three years. Regardless of what happens moving forward, one thing remains true:

Butler kept the receipts.

About Alex Burns

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