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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.