Heat's Jimmy Butler on 76ers' Joel Embiid: 'I Still Wish I Was on His Team'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 13, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 12: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat plays defense on Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler just finished a six-game battle against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with Thursday's 99-90 victory, but the series did nothing to impact his love of former teammate Joel Embiid.

He was asked what his postgame message was to the big man during an ESPN interview and said, "I love him. I'm proud of him. Yes, yes, yes, I still wish I was on his team. I definitely love the Miami Heat, though. I'm glad that I'm here, but I've got so much respect and love for Joel Embiid."


All love between former teammates after a hard-fought series. 🏀 <a href="https://t.co/ktzilNFUWh">pic.twitter.com/ktzilNFUWh</a>

The Butler and Embiid pairing is a tale of what could have been for the 76ers.

Philadelphia acquired Butler in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves early in the 2018-19 campaign and ended up with a 51-31 record as a contender in the Eastern Conference. However, the championship dreams came to a painful end in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beater hit seemingly every part of the rim and dropped.

Just like that it was over, as the 76ers traded Butler to the Heat ahead of the 2019-20 season.

He made the 2020 NBA Finals with Miami inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble and is once again in position to challenge for a championship as the top seed heads to the conference finals.

Embiid's 76ers face far more questions, but he cannot be blamed for the loss.

The MVP runner-up has played through a torn thumb ligament and orbital fracture these playoffs, was diving on the floor at times in Thursday's loss and did what he could even against a stout Miami defense that swarmed him whenever he touched the ball.

It surely didn't help that 10-time All-Star and supposed No. 2 option James Harden shot just two times during the entire second half of the Game 6 loss and seemed disinterested on the defensive side for extended stretches.

Unfortunately for Embiid, all he can do is watch his former teammate in the Eastern Conference Finals when the Heat take on the Milwaukee Bucks or Boston Celtics.