The movie “Invincible” may have taken place in Philadelphia but the Miami Heat are borrowing a page from the script. Down eight players due to health and safety protocols, the team threw out a tongue-in-cheek call for their fans to “fill in roster spots” over the next 10 days.
It was a modern twist on a traditional open tryout as their Twitter account asked people to reply with their best “hoop audition vids.” The responses have been steadily rolling in since Monday, with Heat diehards sharing fun videos of themselves doing everything from launching three-pointers to taking charges to air dunking. The team has been re-tweeting their favorite performances and following them back. Here are a few of the best ones:
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Jokes Aside, Heat Short-Handed Against 76ers
Meanwhile, the roster shortage is real. They will battle the Philadelphia 76ers tonight with eight players ruled out due to health and safety protocols: Bam Adebayo, Avery Bradley, Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Moe Harkless, Udonis Haslem, Kendrick Nunn and KZ Okpala.
In addition, the Heat have listed Meyers Leonard (shoulder strain) and Kelly Olynyk (groin contusion) questionable and Gabe Vincent (knee soreness) probable. It’s a strange time in the NBA as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
“It’s crazy but we still gotta go out and compete,” Butler said. “If your name is called and if you can’t play, you just can’t play. But I don’t think nobody is going out there with or without this Covid and expecting to lose. Everybody is trying to stay safe and keep it away from as many people as you can. It’s crazy to hear how many guys had to be quarantined.”
And it hasn’t been confined to Miami. The 76ers will be missing seven players: Seth Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Tobias Harris, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Vincent Poirier, Matisse Thybulle. All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are considered probable. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
No Crazy Reunion for Butler in Philadelphia
Under normal circumstances, the Heat-76ers game would have more subplots than a Seinfeld episode. Butler spent half a season in Philly — 55 games in 2018-19 following a mid-season trade — and quickly earned the respect of his 76ers teammates as well as the hard-scrabble fans. He was supposed to sign a long-term contract and win multiple championships with Embiid and Simmons, but he opted for South Beach instead.
Butler has been tight-lipped about the reasons for his Philly departure, although he admitted “something happened” and talked of a strained relationship with former coach Brett Brown. At the end of the day, the confident 31-year-old wanted to be in Miami and everything has worked out.
“Miami is a place where I’m happy,” Butler told The Athletic’s Michael Lee. “People overlook the fact that this was one of the places I was trying to get to, early on. For that reason. Because life isn’t always about basketball. It’s about principle. It’s about character. It’s about so many different things. Basketball is great here, but the people here, what they expect of you on a daily basis. The level that they hold you accountable at here, is something that I respect.”
It would have been interesting to see whether the Philly faithful booed him on the court, something they did rather passionately when the two teams met in 2019. After the game, it was all love. Butler remains close friends with several guys on the 76ers, including Embiid.