Jimmy Butler praises Joel Embiid, but blasts 76ers after eliminating former

After his Miami Heat dispensed of the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, Jimmy Butler said he still wishes he were teammates with Joel Embiid. In Butler’s walk-off interview, ESPN’s Jorge Sedano asked what he told Embiid after the buzzer. 

“That I love him,” Butler said. “I’m proud of him. Yes, yes, yes, I still wish I was on his team. I definitely love the Miami Heat, though, man. I’m glad that I’m here. But I got so much respect and love for Joel Embiid.”

In his press conference after the 99-90 loss in Game 6, Embiid made it clear that the feeling is mutual. 

“Obviously that’s my guy, that’s my brother,” Embiid said. “I mean, it’s tough. But I’m so proud of him. He’s playing at an unreal level right now. He’s something else right now. And I’m proud of him for being at this level and carrying them and what he’s been able to do.”

Embiid gave credit to the Heat, their coaching staff and their front office, then continued about Butler: “I’m happy for him. I won’t sit here and say I didn’t wish he was my teammate. I still don’t know how we let him go. But I wish I could have gone to battle with him still. But it is what it is. Just gotta keep building and keep trying to reach that goal.”

While Butler had praise for Embiid, he aired some grievances about his former team. On Thursday, after walking off the court at Wells Fargo Center, Butler wanted to remind the 76ers about their personnel decisions from 2019. Video captured Butler yelling “Tobias Harris over me?” as he entered the Heat locker room.

Butler and Embiid were teammates for less than one full season, and no iteration of the Sixers since then has been better. On May 12, 2019, exactly three years before the Heat eliminated them in Game 6 of the second round, they lost Game 7 in Toronto on Kawhi Leonard’s legendary, four-bounce buzzer-beater.

That team’s full-strength starting five — Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Butler, Harris and Embiid — played only 161 minutes in 10 regular-season games, but was downright dominant: 121.9 points per 100 possessions on offense, 102.5 per 100 on defense. It had an even better point differential in 173 playoff minutes, but that was that. In the 2019 offseason, Butler made his way to Miami in a sign-and-trade and the Sixers signed Al Horford in free agency. 

Butler and Embiid were thick as thieves during their short time together, and their team came literally as close as one can get to defeating the eventual champions. In the 204 minutes they shared the court in that seven-game series, the Sixers outscored the Raptors by 76 points, or 18.3 per 100 possessions. 

So why did Butler end up leaving? In a 2020 story for Bleacher Report, Yaron Weitzman reported that Philadelphia was worried about Butler continuing to clash with then-coach Brett Brown and his presence complicating things for Simmons — in the Toronto series, Butler became the Sixers’ primary playmaker,…

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Read More: Jimmy Butler praises Joel Embiid, but blasts 76ers after eliminating former 2022-05-13 04:39:00

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