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June 01, 2023

Eytan Shander: Sixers fans should be upset no matter who wins NBA Finals

Eytan Shander is not looking forward to the NBA Finals.

Tough scene.

The Philadelphia 76ers organization and fans alike get to watch the worst possible matchup for the NBA Finals. No, this isn’t a “ratings” article, and shame on you if you take the next week off from basketball because it makes you look silly, be it organizational decisions or stupid tweets about Nikola Jokic.

We all look foolish, including myself. Be it the real world choices that forced Jimmy Butler’s hand in moving on from the Sixers or fake world tweets about VORP, this is a tough one to watch for all of us. We get to see either Butler or Jokic win a championship, hurting us in different ways regardless of the result. 

I’ve already seen the re-writing of history on social media, as people have “always” been fans of Butler, despite leaving and shouting “Tobias Harris over ME!?” en route to the locker room. Some Sixers fans will have you believe they were never angry with Butler leaving and having disparaging remarks about their favorite team – because we never take up for our teams no matter what a former player says (sarcasm). 

We all watched Butler do special things over the past few years in Miami, culminating in another trip to the Finals this year. It’s just ridiculous that this organization in Philadelphia even thought of breaking up Joel Embiid and Butler, let alone actually letting that happen. Tobias over Jimmy? 

It seems like the convenient way to work around the line that Butler drew himself is now saying, “Oh I was always rooting for him.” Despite that not being the case, especially when he was torching the Sixers and screaming about it. 

This wasn’t hatred, but it certainly wasn’t love. Even if you did find yourself rooting for Butler outside of your own feelings about his feelings about leaving – this isn’t going to be fun. Butler represents everything that is a “Philadelphia athlete”. Whatever your definition of that is, he’s Aaron Rowand running into a wall but making the Finals. Not only is Butler one of the most talented players in this league, but also a staple of hustle and a demanding type of leadership that is simply infectious. Combine him with the right coach and front office, and it’s deadly. 

We had Butler, we couldn’t handle him, and he’s never coming back. Embiid has a better chance of leaving following next season to play with him than anything of the opposite. Who in their right mind would willingly leave Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley? No Doc or Nurse or anyone else in the medical profession will trump that one. 

We watch Butler, his coach, and the mastermind remind all of us of how to properly use Butler. The Sixers failed miserably in making something work that now looks so simple. Have you ever struggled with building something or putting together a puzzle, then seeing someone (smarter in my case) with a different approach just easily complete the job? The Sixers are struggling with one side of a Rubik’s Cube while Riley and company can do it in five seconds. 

No, the Sixers wouldn’t have beaten Miami. Not their Hall of Fame coach and star player. This is just a kick in the gut to see a much better run organization maximize Butler versus the giant failure we saw here.

How about a kick in the face?

Enter Jokic, VORP, and all of your tweets destroying this man throughout the regular season. Trust me, I was there, even adding one or two to the fire. The reality is that Jokic is far and away the better player than Embiid, and is showing how working with a complimentary star like Jamal Murray can be unstoppable. It’s like the anti-Sixers in Denver. The Nuggets seem to have rallied around Jokic this year, not because he lost the MVP but the way in which he did. Attacks on his game, Embiid caught some too, Giannis seemed to avoid most strays, and just the overall dismissal of Jokic’s impact – reducing it to some weird stat category. 

I hate reducing everything down to numbers, but numbers are derived from somewhere. Hard to hide whatever the number is that reflects Jokic’s play, as we see him do some crazy things. 

So, what does a title mean in relation to the Sixers and us here in Philly?


You can’t just hide under a pile of blankets like Homer Simpson and expect this thing to just go away. I’d stay off social media and whatever awful morning sports show on TV you subject yourself and household. This is the final nail in the sh** talking that was done throughout the season, reducing a guy while propping up another. Yes, we would be doing the same thing if Embiid lost the MVP and was in the NBA Finals – rightfully so. 

This is our Nick Young GIF moment. We saw the perfect form of that shot go up, Embiid winning the regular season MVP, and thought, “Bucket”. We even smiled as we walked away, following the sweep of the Nets. Then Game 7 against Boston happened, and now the NBA Finals. 


The obvious choice on social media was people would rather see Jimmy over Nikola win, I get that from what Jokic winning does to de-value Embiid and the Sixers. But don’t underestimate what Miami winning means in relation to highlighting the true depths of failure exhibited by the 76ers.

Tough scene, indeed.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

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