The Miami Heat officially punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night. Despite playing before a hostile Philly crowd for Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center — and doing so without point guard Kyle Lowry, who sat with a hamstring injury — the South Beach crew closed out the Sixers with a 99-90 win.
While much of the talk on the day after the game has been about James Harden becoming a ghost for the Sixers down the stretch, it was the Heat who earned the series-clinching win behind a stellar effort from Jimmy Butler.
In 43 minutes of action, the six-time All-Star dropped a game-high 32 points while adding eight boards, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
As loud as he was with his play on the hardwood, though, Butler was equally booming on his way to the Heat locker room postgame, as captured in a viral clip.
Butler Sounds off on His Sixers Exit
As Butler moved through the concourse to get to the locker room immediately after the contest, photojournalist David Silver captured the baller sending a particularly strong message to the Sixers, with whom he spent the majority of the 2018-19 season.
“Tobias Harris over me? Tobias Harris over me?!” Butler exclaimed as he entered the tunnel.
Of course, Butler famously led Philly to the East’s third seed and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinal round where the club faced the Raptors in 2019. The Sixers would take the eventual NBA champions to a Game 7 before a buzzer-beating, fadeaway jumper from Kawhi Leonard ended their season.
Despite his many contributions, that would be Butler’s last game with Philly before he made the move to Miami. In the years that have passed since his exit, fans and insiders alike have opined that the franchise essentially chose former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons over him.
That said, the Sixers’ decision to give Harris a max contract could be considered the final nail in the coffin of Butler’s tenure with the organization, which has perpetually fallen short of expectations since his exit.
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Fans React to the Butler’s Proclamation
As the clip went viral, fans of both teams reacted to it in droves. Clearly, Butler and his situation with the Sixers have inspired some big thoughts.
“This just goes to show you it wasn’t about him wanting to leave or the coach, they chose other players over him and the @sixers played themselves and let him go,” tweeted one member of the Philly faithful.
“They don’t get close to winning that with a healthy Joel [Embiid] but I agree Toby over Jimmy butler is nuts,” opined a second fan.
“I think ‘Jimmy wanted to stay’ has been overblown by the media,” countered another tweeter. “Jimmy has been interested in playing for the Heat since Wade taught him all about the best culture in the NBA.”