The Sixers are in the brightest of spotlights entering the 2019-20 season. Last season’s playoffs ended in the most heartbreaking fashion for Philly, Elton Brand made headline after headline with his summertime transactions, and now the Sixers are possibly the favorite to represent the East in the NBA Finals depending on who you’re talking to. It’s a recipe for media attraction.
And when national media members flock to the Sixers’ facilities, Joel Embiid is often the main attraction. Embiid recently sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols for an interview, and some of his comments regarding Jimmy Butler are drawing attention. When asked about Jimmy Butler, Joel said the following:
“It was a big loss because me and him, we got to the point where we were really close – we’re still close. We talk a lot, that’s my guy, that’s my brother forever. I wish he was still on the team, because I feel like the relationship that I built with him could have gone a long way. When it was the fourth quarter, we knew the ball would either be in me or Jimmy’s hands. I knew I could count on him. This year it kind of changes around. Now other guys have to step up and I have to do more.”
If we’re keeping it real, Jo is on the money here. Butler’s trade to Miami is a huge loss, he was the closer the Sixers could count on. And yes: Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Joel himself are going to have to step it up in lieu of Butler’s departure. There’s also nothing really wrong with wishing you could play with your friends! The NBA’s stars reflect this same sentiment through their actions every year.
In the context of the interview, Embiid was simply genuinely and honestly participating. And guess what? When you feel you’ve lost your ticket to the Finals on a few bounces of the ball (i.e., on the margins), it’s time to be honest. Without Butler in town, the Sixers face questions when it comes to the final five minutes of a close game and a team with title hopes absolutely should be conscious of that.