I know, I did too. So did Joel Embiid. I stared at my TV screen in salty disbelief thinking, “What if?” Jimmy Butler was pouring in clutch baskets, inspiring his teammates and looking every bit the part of a $35 million per year player for the Miami Heat, not the Sixers.
Butler soared to a career playoff-high Monday night in a 40-point eruption against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks as his team took a 1-0 series lead. It was like seeing your ex-girlfriend looking her best with her new beau as they peel off in a Maserati and you’re still driving your old Corolla with the transmission problem.
Dang, the Sixers had that dude in house, I thought. He’s exactly what the team is missing, a crunch time-tested, playoff scorer who can create his own shot and get to the line. Butler scored 15 of Miami’s final 20 points. I soaked in his performance and the irony that his current team hasn’t lost a playoff game, while his former team, the Sixers, didn’t win one, getting swept out of the first round.
As the night went on and that salty feeling lingered, I realized how unhealthy my behavior was. There are no clear answers on exactly why Butler didn’t re-sign with the Sixers. Was it front office negligence? Did his relationship with Brett Brown cause an irreparable rift? Was it something about his relationship with Ben Simmons, or the Australian’s reluctance to shoot? Pick your poison.
I was torturing myself. I wanted what I had just seen, but couldn't have it, although it was here in South Philly a short time ago. Butler should still be at the team’s practice facility giving away free Jordans and having Megalodon-sized Easter Egg hunts with the staff.
It’s time to move on, Sixers fans. Let the Jimmy G. Buckets show play out in Miami and we’ll do our thing here. We’ll just have to hope Philly and Miami’s paths never cross in a meaningful basketball game and if they do, that the Sixers have an answer for his greatness.
Currently, they do not. In what feels like a list longer than a CVS receipt of necessary offseason moves, daydreaming about “What if Jimmy Butler was still here?” doesn’t make the cut.