By Tommy Matthews
The Heat and Jimmy Butler are in the NBA Finals again.
And Sixers fans are boo-hooing about the fact that Butler was in Philly for part of the 2018-19 season, but he walked as a free agent to Miami when he correctly perceived that he was a fifth wheel here.
Behind Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris!
Make no mistake:
At this moment, Butler is the best basketball player on the planet. He carried a 44-win Heat team through a play-in round that landed them the No. 8 seed, then past No. 1 Milwaukee in five games, past No. 5 New York in six, and past No. 2 Boston in seven.
They will now face the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals, starting with Game 1 at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
Butler’s 33, and he has been magnificent.
The Sixers would be playing in the Finals if he was on their team.
Except, he’s not. And he was never going to be. This is painful, but this is truth.
It’s all the more painful for Sixers fans because Butler is back in the Finals for the second time since he left. As such, it’s appropriate to revisit the circumstances around Butler’s arrival, his tenure, and his departure after the 2018-19 season in which Butler led the Sixers to the brink of their first Eastern Conference finals since 2001.
The Sixers did not choose Tobias Harris over Jimmy Butler. They chose Ben Simmons over Butler.
Any other choice was impossible.