Jimmy Butler Says 'Tobias Harris over Me?' on Video after Heat Beat 76ers

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 13, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 23: Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers shakes hands with Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center on November 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Heat 113-86. 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. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler had a question after his team eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers from the 2022 NBA playoffs on Thursday night: "Tobias Harris over me?"

In July 2019, the Sixers sent Butler to Miami as part of a sign-and-trade deal while signing Harris to a five-year, $180 million contract extension.

Clearly, the six-time All-Star didn't forget Philly's decision after Game 6:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

“Tobias Harris over me?” 🗣<br><br>Jimmy sending a message to his former team<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/Local10Sports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Local10Sports</a>)<a href="https://t.co/o63mdgzb2y">pic.twitter.com/o63mdgzb2y</a>

While the choice was often painted as Butler or Harris, behind the scenes it was apparently a different story.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported Wednesday that Ben Simmons became "disenfranchised by Butler's playing and leadership style," which led the front office to believe it had to choose at the time between a 22-year-old point guard who was seemingly on the ascent and a 29-year-old forward perhaps already at his peak.

The Sixers chose Simmons, now 25, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in February after sitting out the entire season because of a back injury and focusing on his mental health.

So Butler, 32, could have just as easily said, "Ben Simmons over me?" and the message would have been the same, but he opted to focus on Harris.

Here's a look at how the two players performed in the series:

  • Butler: 27.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 51.5 FG%
  • Harris: 16.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 47.8 FG%

And most importantly, Butler's Heat are moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Sixers made a lot of decisions over the past few years that centered around the idea of keeping Simmons and Joel Embiid as their core. While Embiid blossomed into an MVP candidate, the team's relationship with Simmons faltered after last year's playoff exit.

They were able to salvage the situation to an extent by getting James Harden from the Nets, but his playoff struggles (18.6 PPG on 40.5 percent shooting) raise a new set of questions heading into the offseason.

It may lead the Philadelphia front office to ask another question while watching Butler play in the next round of the postseason: "What if?"