Whew! What an NBA Finals that was. The Warriors and Raptors played six incredibly entertaining games, and a team winning its first NBA title by vanquishing the Warriors dynasty makes it all extra memorable. For once, Toronto’s streets are swarmed by humans celebrating a title and not hordes of raccoons.
But let’s get to the real winners of the NBA title this year: The Philadelphia 76ers. As the only team to take the Raptors to a full seven-game series, plenty of media outlets and fans are speculating that the 76ers would’ve won in overtime, beaten the Milwaukee Bucks to win the East, and then dethroned the Warriors.
This didn’t happen, strictly speaking—the Sixers lost to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals on an absurd four-bounce buzzer beater in Game 7. This means that the Philadelphia 76ers won the almost-championship, and that the Raptors’ win is basically a win for the Sixers. Everyone’s saying it.
Never mind that the Milwaukee Bucks came incredibly close to going up 3-0 on the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing Game 3 only in double overtime. Don’t even think about how flukey injuries can be and wonder whether two of Warriors stars would’ve gotten hurt against the Sixers, too. Just think about that parade down Broad Street.
In fact, the Sixers could’ve beaten the Raptors in six games if Joel Embiid hadn’t had diarrhea. Imagine if he shoots a little better than 2-for-7 in that game. Then imagine Jimmy Butler cruising down Broad Street, holding the Larry O’Brien trophy, wearing a “pussy, money, and weed” shirt.
Or maybe Ben Simmons and Kendall Jenner would still be together if that Kawhi Leonard shot hadn’t gone in. Look, none of this can be ruled out. Nor should it be, considering that the alternative is to continue to dwell on the fact the Sixers only took one shot that even hit the rim in the final three and a half minutes of Game 7 against Toronto.
I mean, I’m probably going to dwell on that anyway. I am person who is still thinking about how things would’ve turned out had the Sixers made their free throws in Game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals (the Sixers would’ve lost in 6, I guess, but that still would’ve been more fun). So why not blunt the pain a bit with some hypotheticals? If only Bryan Colangelo hadn’t passed on Pascal Siakam twice to draft Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz!
Korkmaz, incidentally, got a vote for Philadelphia City Council last month. Under these new standards, he is basically mayor already. Hit the bricks, Jim Kenney.
Amazingly, this is the second almost-championship of the week for the city of Philadelphia, as the St. Louis Blues turned their season around and won the Stanley Cup after hearing “Gloria” played repeatedly at a private club in South Philly. Craig Berube better bring that cup to Sea Isle this summer.