It’s understandable that Sixers fans are optimistic following the team’s 128-108 win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their first round playoff series Thursday night. My colleague David Murphy wrote that the Sixers’ convincing win was even more impressive than their Game 1 victory because the team won “by beating the Heat at their own game.”
But it appears one SEPTA driver might be a bit too excited.
Joseph Lichterman, a senior business associate at the Lenfest Institute for Journalism (the nonprofit that owns the company that operates the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com), spotted a SEPTA bus Friday morning that appeared to already declare the Sixers NBA champions.
I think this bus is getting a little ahead of itself pic.twitter.com/zc7jPYC1gA
— Joseph Lichterman (@ylichterman) April 20, 2018
“We can blame SEPTA if the Sixers lose,” Lichterman wrote in a subsequent tweet.
A quick search on Twitter by revealed this is far from the first time a SEPTA bus has prematurely declared the Sixers NBA champions, a trend going all the way back to 2010.
Just saw a SEPTA bus that had the message "GO SIXERS – NBA CHAMPIONS" on the front of it and honestly I wish I was on that bus
— William Culpepper (@Will_Pepper) March 31, 2018
Just saw a Septa bus drive by with "Go SIXERS! NBA CHAMPIONS!!!"
— Herbert West (@kingofmyworld19) June 23, 2017
my favorite troll job is the septa bus that says "go sixers!!! nba champions!!!" across the screen on the front.
— a zayn hipster. (@utley) April 6, 2016
I've seen "GO SIXERS!!!" on two bus displays today. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say @SEPTA is calling for Chip Kelly's job.
— Brian McCardle (@BriMcCardle) October 27, 2014
Why do SEPTA buses have the message "Go Sixers: NBA Champions" flashing across the front grid?..did I miss something?
— Mr. Simmons (@Hand2DaHairline) February 14, 2012
just saw a septa bus that says "Go Sixers! NBA Champions!" Say what…?
— Stefanie (@stefmcguire) October 17, 2010
According to a SEPTA spokesman, the sign change spotted this week was made by an unidentified bus driver to promote the Sixers. But if the Sixers defeat the Heat to move into the second round of the playoffs, every bus will display the same “team spirit” messaging controlled by SEPTA’s bus operations division. SEPTA didn’t reveal exactly what that messaging would be, so hopefully it won’t be read as a fleet-wide jinx of the Sixers.
SEPTA’s Broad Street Line is already covered with Sixers art featuring rookie standout Ben Simmons, part of the team’s “Welcome to the Moment” advertising campaign.
— ISEPTAPHILLY (@SEPTAPHILLY) April 15, 2018
The SEPTA driver isn’t the only one confident about the Sixers chances. Joel Embiid, who returned to the court for the first time since suffering a fracture to the orbital bone near his left eye in March, shared an Instagram story this week laying out the Sixers’ path to an NBA championship. Yahoo Sports NBA tweeted the photos, which show Embiid in photos with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
Joel Embiid's got some NBA playoff predictions. 👀 pic.twitter.com/KaCRQyLbkm
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) April 14, 2018
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne asked Embiid about Instagram post after Thursday’s win, and Sixers star smiled as he explained it was simply a coincidence the photos featured teams Philadelphia could end up playing.
“I don’t know, it was just the only pictures I had in my phone, so I just had to go with that,” Embiid said.
If the Sixers defeat the Heat, they’ll take on the winner of the Celtics-Bucks series, which Boston leads 2-0. In addition to the Cavaliers, the team could potentially take on the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers or the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Staff writer Patricia Madej contributed to this report.