The way people in Philadelphia – including Sixers star Joel Embiid – talk about Jimmy Butler, you might think he has won six world championships. Yes, the six-time All-Star is a clutch performer who scraps and claws. He’s everything you want in a strong leader. However, Butler has zero rings hanging from his fingers.
That was a fact that Doc Rivers was all too happy to point out following the Sixers’ 99-90 loss in Game 6. The savvy head coach wasn’t dismissing Butler’s many accomplishments or trying to incite a blood feud. Rivers was simply stating a fact: Butler has never won the whole thing. It’s hard to win championships.
“Jimmy is just like me and everybody else, how many times has Jimmy won? You know, that’s how hard it is to win,” Rivers said after Game 6. “When you got a guy who plays as hard as he does and fights as hard as he does every year and he’s still yet to win. Winning is hard. It is. And I don’t think people get that.
“They want to sit and blame people for losing and sometimes … winning is hard, there’s only going to be one winner, that’s just the way it is. But I swear to God I love the fight. I love being in the fray and trying to get your team the win. And get your team to believe they can win and I thought we did that. I thought we built this team to believe they can win. Whether they could or not, they believed it.”
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Rivers Joked About Butler’s Marquette Legacy
Dwyane Wade is the greatest player in the history of Marquette University basketball. No one will ever dispute that. However, Rivers had some fun with Butler’s ranking on the school’s all-time list following his 40-point performance in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He moved Butler up to No. 2 in the rankings, ahead of Rivers who also starred at Marquette from 1980-83.
“He was amazing tonight, I moved him to second all-time in Marquette, you know, I really did,” Rivers said after Game 4. “It was Wade and then, of course, me then Jimmy. And now Jimmy’s ahead of me, for sure. So, I gave that up tonight. I’m joking.”
Feeling ‘Sad’ for Veterans Like Paul Millsap
Paul Millsap saw only saw six minutes in the Eastern Conference semifinals, all of them coming in a 106-92 blowout win by the Heat in Game 1. Millsap didn’t play in any other game in the series and now he appears headed for retirement.
“I want to say this, too, without getting emotional,” Rivers said after Game 6. “Paul Millsap, might be his last game of his career. I think people after losses think it’s just me or Joel [Embiid] that’s taking it hard. Like I’m looking at this guy, he’s given his whole career to basketball and he’s in there crying after the game.
“And so, for me, that was really sad. So many of these guys they give it to the city, they give it everything they have and sometimes it’s just not good enough. I came to the conclusion at the end of this game we were not good enough to beat Miami. I can accept that. That’s a tough thing to say but we were not.”
Millsap was a throw-in player in the trade with Brooklyn that swapped Ben Simmons for James Harden. Rivers experimented with using the 37-year-old as the backup center, but it wasn’t a good fit. They went with DeAndre Jordan and Paul Reed there.