PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 02: Jimmy Butler #23 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers react after a timeout against the Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center on May 2, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Raptors 116-95.

Watching the Heat dominate the Celtics so much in these Eastern Conference Finals has Sixers fans feeling a lot of conflicting emotions. On one hand, it is always good to see the Celtics lose. But then there is the question of how did this Celtics team embarrass the Sixers the way they did. How do they go from beating the Sixers down, to getting beat down. And it has Sixers ans going through so many what ifs. What if the Sixers won game 6, would they have stood a better chance vs the Heat? Would they have gotten beat down as badly as the Celtics? It also doesn’t help that we are watching Jimmy Butler get back to the Finals.

Jimmy Butler was here. But he left because he did not like the makeup of the Sixers team. He went to the Heat, and immediately proved himself right. He got the heat to two NBA Finals now in that time. Including the very next season in the Bubble. Meanwhile the Sixers still cant get out of the 2nd round. So what if Jimmy Butler stayed here? Would they be the team with all of that success? Or would their loser energy rub off on Jimmy and drag him down with us? These are the types of things we tneed to think of when out team has lost for the 5th time in the 2nd round.

Which had me thinking. What are the other big What ifs in Philly Sports history. The types of questions that trouble us even now. Because other than waiting for the Eagles to start, we dont have a lot to look forward to right now. So instead of toiling in the present, lets look back at some big questions still hanging over us in our past.

Here are 11 What if Questions still on many of our minds all these years later:

  • What if Jimmy Butler Never Left the Sixers

    This is the one most on Philly fans minds right now. Seeing Jimmy Butler get to his 2nd NBA Finals since he left Philly, while Sixers still cant get out of the 2nd round, hurts. So what if he never left? What if they signed him instead of Tobias, or him instead of Ben Simmons? Apparently, he wanted Brett Brown gone, but Brett Brown was fired after the next season anyway.

    One thing I think is important to point out is that he went to a team with a clearly defined culture. So as great as Butler has been in the playoffs, its not evident he would be that great here. With Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, the Heat have a long history of being winners beyond Jimmy Butler. Still, he is the type of player you want in your organization. The Sixers have lacked that guy, the killer, since he left. Would he be having 50pt nights in the playoffs here? Maybe not. But Butler wouldn’t roll over and die like the Sixers have in so many of these playoffs since he left.

  • Eagles Give Terrell Owens The Money He Wanted

    I still think that if TO never left, he and McNabb would have eventually won a Super Bowl. They came so close in his one year here. And both him and McNabb had some of the best years of their career. But everyone’s ego got in the way. TO wouldn’t play while they worked it out. McNabb wouldn’t go to bat to get TO paid.  And Joe Banner wouldn’t pay the best offensive player he had ever brought to the Eagles. All 3 share the blame, though only TO got it at the time.

    But what if they worked it out? If TO got paid and played the rest of his prime here. Would we have gotten our first Super Bowl back in 2005 or 2006 instead of 10 years later in 2017? Maybe Andy Reid would have never lost his job because he would have have several more years of great Football and he would be the Bill Belichick of Philadelphia. McNabb may have won a Super Bowl and we would be talking about the Hall of Fame for him. Instead it all blew up. The Eagles never reached those heights again under McNabb. Andy Reid eventually sputtered out here. And TO left for Dallas and never had another chance at the Super Bowl.

  • What if The National League Always Had A DH

    Imagine this, instead of Jim Thome blocking Ryan Howard, both can play at the same time. Ryan Howard comes up much younger, maybe gets to 400 or even 500 HRs, and you have Thome on those Phillies teams in 2006 and 2007. Do the Phillies win sooner with that type of power in their lineup? Does Ryan Howard’s career last longer on the backend? We see the benefit of it now, with Bryce Harper being allowed to play all of last season, and now this season despite being unable to play the field. But what would have happened with Howard and Thome if they did that?

    Its not something that will keep Philly fans up at night like the first two. But it is a fun thing to think about. The Phillies having a lineup of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz. That certainly would have been fun. It worked out anyway with them getting a world Series.

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 02: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies acknowledges the fans during a ceremony in his honor before a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on October 2, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

  • What If The Kawhi Leonard Shot Bounces Out

    Kawhi Leonard’s shot bouncing off the rim 4 times, and then in, is still one of the most heartbreaking moments of my sports life. It really felt like their year. They had arguably the best starting 5 in basketball. Ben Simmons, JJ Reddick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid. They pushed the eventual champions to 7 games. But then the ball bounced in. Turns out it was their best chance in the Ben Simmons era to ever win it. After it Jimmy Butler left, the Sixers had a disaster the next year with Al Horford and Josh Richardson joining the team.

    The truth is, we don’t even know if they would win it in overtime. But if they did, would they have gone on to win it. No other team gave the Raptors as hard of a time as the Sixers did. If that shot doesn’t fall. Maybe it goes back to our first one, and Jimmy Butler never leaves. The 2nd round curse wouldn’t be hanging over their head. Even if they didn’t win the next two rounds, it could have changed the next several years for them. Brett Brown could still be here too. Instead, the shot fell. The Sixers were eliminated. And we are still waiting to just get past the 2nd round let alone a chance at the Finals.

  • What If They Drafted Ricky Williams Like Fans Wanted

    Here is one What If that worked out in our favor. Philly fans badly wanted Ricky Williams, not Donovan McNabb. But the Eagles took McNabb, to the boos of Eagles fans. Thankfully so. Ricky Williams played just 3 seasons with the Saints who drafted him. None of his teams were ever that competitive either. He had a  personally successful career marred with suspensions. McNabb, even though he came up short of delivering the team a Super Bowl, is the best QB in team history and gave us one of the best eras in Eagles history.

    If they took Ricky, they might have never gotten to 1 NFC Championship, let alone a Super Bowl. Andy Reid may not have lasted as long as he did. The horrible era on the late 90s may have carried into the 2000s, and who knows where we would be now. They made the right choice.

  • What if Ben Simmons Liked Basketball

    Ben Simmons was supposed to be the next big thing. The problem, he was never interested in changing his game enough to reach that level. We realize now he just does not like basketball that much to put in all of that work. He barely even plays now. But what if he did care? What if he came in and put in the work? Would he be launching 3s? No. I don’t think he would ever be capable of that. But could he play like Giannis? Maybe.

    So what if Ben Simmons cared enough to try and improve. To get more aggressive and attack the rim with his elite mix of mix and speed? He would probably still be here, and maybe the Sixers would have had more playoff success by now. If he was like that, he certainly would have dunked it vs the Hawks, and maybe they win that game instead of losing. That blow up would have never happened. Instead none of that happened. He never cared enough to improve his game, and now he is gone, and the Sixers have a lot of work ahead of them to be truly competitive.

  • What if Eric Lindros Stayed Healthy

    The Flyers should have gotten so much more out of the Lindros era. He was genuinely one of the most dynamic players in the league. Often among the favorites to win the Hart trophy. He even won it once. Had the Flyers competitive in the playoffs a few times. They made the Stanley Cup once, but got swept out of it. That was the only real taste they got though. Before you knew it, his physical style of play was taking its toll, and he was missing long stretches of time with injuries, and those same injuries had him less effective when he was on the ice.

    If he stayed healthy, would they have eventually broken through? Maybe. Its just a shame the Flyers  had a generational type talent in the town, but could not ever make real use of it. It gave us some great hockey to watch, but it never led to any Cups. And you wonder if he stayed healthy, if that would be different.

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 18: Eric Lindros of the Philadelphia Flyers speaks to media prior to his jersey retirement night before the Philadelphia Flyers play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Wells Fargo Center on January 18, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

  • What if Matt Geiger Didnt Kill That Allen Iverson Trade

    As you probably know, AI was almost traded back in 2000. A trade was agreed to that would have sent him to the Pistons. But one hero stopped it. Matt Geiger, who refused to waive his no trade clause. His reasoning is that he just didn’t want to play there. Fair enough. And thankfully so, because the next year, Allen Iverson had the season of his life. He carried the Sixers all the way to the Finals, where they eventually lost to the Lakers. But that Finals run made so many young Philly fans fall in love with the Sixers. Myself included.

    Where would we even be if that happened. There would have been no interesting basketball in Philly for a long time. Like with Lindros, the Sixers never capitalized on having a generational talent in Iverson. But also like Lindros, just AI being here gave us a reason to watch. This is yet another What If where we can look back on and be happy. Because things could have gotten pretty dark if that trade went through. Thank you Matt Geiger.

    6 Jun 2001: Matt Geiger #52 and Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The 76ers won 107-101.

    Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule/Allsport.

  • What if Carson Wentz Doesn't Tear his ACL

    At the time, the Wentz injury was a gut punch. The Eagles looked like the best team in the NFL, with Wentz the favorite to win MVP. Nearly everybody thought him tearing his ACL killed their Super Bowl hopes. Little did we know, that Nick Foles would play the two best games of his career  in the playoffs to bring the first Super Bowl home. And the butterfly effect of that is still being felt to  this day. Wentz never looked like the same guy. He had flashes. But beyond the injuries, it was clear seeing his backup win, had long lasting effects on him. Not to drive him to be better, but to be looking over his shoulder constantly.

    It worked out well for the Eagles. They got a Super Bowl. If that was the cost of Carson Wentz’s confidence, so be it. But would they have still won if he stayed healthy. Would he still be here otherwise? If he stayed healthy, there is an alternate reality where the Eagles never win a Super Bowl. Wentz sticks around here though. They never get Hurts. Sorry Wentz, but we will keep the reality that we have on this one.

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