Jimmy Butler’s a smart guy. He’s a respected veteran presence on a young team. So when he says the 76ers are going to go as far as Joel Embiid and his virus ridden corpse are going to drag them, that the team needs to “ride or die with the big fella,” Philadelphia fans should listen up and be inclined to do the same.
The 76ers are going to “ride or die with the big fella” because anyone with half a brain knows that an Embiid with one functional lung and explosive diarrhea is better than the shit gumbo of Greg Monroe/Jonah Bolden/Boban Marjanovic at center.
The Sixers aren’t going to win anything without him, so why are so many fans and media members hell bent on trying to run him out of town already? We’re seriously questioning the heart and desire of an MVP candidate who has only played 2.5 years of professional basketball?
Butler wants to ride-or-die with Embiid. How about we all stop being stupid and do the same? Or are we careening to our destiny five years from now when Embiid refuses to re-sign with the 76ers, Ben Simmons has already left, and we’re watching a 39-win team led by a fat-and-out-of-shape Kyle Lowry and wondering where all the talent went.
“WHAT HAPPENED?! WHY DO WE SUCK NOW?”
We suck because we ran the best young center in the NBA out of town because we were mad he couldn’t play through the flu.
I get it. Game five was awful. Embiid was awful. He was drained, he was ineffective, he wasn’t himself. He deserved the criticism he got for not playing well. All true. But the amount of “takes” and “theories” of fans and talking heads in this city that are second-guessing his motives for playing, if he should have played in the first place, or if he was just using the sickness as an excuse, is astounding.
Of course he should have played. It doesn’t matter how sick he is, if he could drag himself out and play 20 minutes it gives the 76ers a 10-fold chance of winning compared to Monroe and Boban playing 30+ minutes. Monroe has literally played six good minutes this entire series and all of a sudden he can give the 76ers quality minutes in the most important game of the year?
We went from serenading him with MVP chants in game three to openly questioning his future with the team in game five. Jesus Christ, I shudder to think what this city will do if he loses tonight. Angelo Cataldi will be calling for him to be tarred and feathered and dumped outside of the city limits.
It’s clear he’s hobbled by the illness. He’s not “making an excuse” or “using it as a crutch” as so many are claiming. I get the flu and I’m shopping for coffins and wearing a black veil. I guarantee you 99% of his critics who say he should have “gutted through it” have missed work for being hungover or are currently scamming their unions with fake workers comp claims. The last thing anyone wants to do when they’re sick is run around for 48 minutes, so give him a break if he’s grimacing on the bench or slowly walking out to the court. He’s doing his best not to shit his pants, forgive him for not making kissy faces to the TNT cameras all night.
And what if Embiid didn’t play? What if he actually chose to sit out because the virus or illness was making him a shell of himself, as so many said he should have? CAN YOU IMAGINE THE FERVOR FROM THIS CITY IF HE DIDN’T PLAY? My god, the takes alone about him “not being a Philly guy” would level a city block. He’d be skewered after we watched Monroe limp out of game five with a -65, three points, two rebounds, and 12 turnovers.
Hell, even with him gutting through the game, one sports talk host in this town said a “public shaming” is needed to set Embiid straight. A public shaming? If it didn’t work for Cersei in Game of Thrones it’s not going to work for Embiid. Did he want Brett Brown to put him in the stocks outside of Wells Fargo Center so fans could hurl tomatoes and rotten cabbage at him? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!
This tough guy Philly nonsense is so fucking stupid. Embiid, by all definitions, is a gamer. He wants to play. If you want to point at the franchise making him sit games for “load management” that’s fine, but it’s a reality for all superstars in this league with injury histories. Nobody is an iron man in the NBA anymore.
But saying he can’t play through “the sniffles” is moronic. We really want to run an MVP caliber player out of the city for this? FOR THIS? Because he has bad luck and got sick? Because he looked sad on the bench? Because he wasn’t high-kicking his way out to center court for the jump ball? Get the fuck out of here.
All the rats are jumping ship. Whatever. It will be lovely sweeping them off the deck when things start going right again and they try to scramble back aboard.
Ride-or-die with the big fella, Philadelphia.