Tim McConnell, the father of 76ers point guard TJ McConnell, never wishes TJ luck before a game.
“I text him, ‘Great effort,’ ” the elder McConnell said. “I don’t say ‘Good luck’ to my kids. I say ‘Great effort’ because luck has nothing to do with your success. It’s the effort you put forth.”
That’s the message McConnell also instills in his players while coaching the Chartiers Valley High School girls’ basketball team. Located in Collier Township, Allegheny County, about eight miles southwest of Pittsburgh, they meet Archbishop Carroll in the PIAA Class 5A state championship game at Hershey’s Giant Center on Saturday at 6 p.m.
McConnell coached his two sons, TJ and Matty, at Chartiers Valley and stepped down last season after 25 years and a 552-146 record. He then applied for the girls’ position and now gets to coach his daughter, Megan, who is a 5-foot-7 junior guard for the Colts.
According to MaxPreps, Megan averages 11.1 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Colts, who go into the game against Carroll with a 29-0 record.
Now that McConnell spends more time with his daughter, it has brought them closer together.
“I’ve had a great relationship with my daughter, but my relationship has gotten stronger through this situation,” he said. “Only because I sort of neglected her a little bit when both of the boys were always going to games. Now, to be able to spend every day with her and coach her, has helped our bond get even stronger.”
The McConnell family thrives on proving critics wrong. When TJ was in high school in 2010, he would often get heckled by student sections with chants such as ‘Grade school! Grade school!’ -- because he looked so young -- or ‘Daddy’s boy! Daddy’s boy!’
Little did those fans know, their attention just added fuel to the fire.
“Knowing all three of my children the way I do, I absolutely love when they would do things like that because it just helps motivate my kids to prove people wrong,” Tim McConnell said. “That, to me, helped us more than hurt us."
Now that TJ -- Timothy John -- is in the NBA, it’s hard for Tim to watch his son play in person or on TV because of his busy schedule. But Tim said that he bought the NBA package and tapes every game he can’t watch live on TV.
Tim McConnell said he was initially surprised that TJ made an NBA roster. But he isn’t surprised that once TJ “got his foot in the door,” he would stick around for good.
“This didn’t happen by accident,” Tim McConnell said. “TJ is not the most athletic. He is not the fastest. He is not the tallest. But I’ll tell you what, you won’t find a guy that works harder.”
When TJ walked off the floor in his final game at the University of Arizona in 2015, he didn’t think the NBA was an option, and neither did Tim. The day it became realistic for the family was the day Tim got a phone call he’ll never forget.
“He called me the day he made it and said, ‘Dad, your son is a pro,’ ” said Tim, referring to TJ signing with the Sixers in 2015. “That’s the day I realized it was realistic.”
And now that TJ is in his fourth year with the Sixers, with one playoff appearance under his belt and on his way to another, Tim McConnell said he revels in the stories that TJ shares about some of the NBA’s biggest personalities.