Defiance. Fearlessness. Humility.

These are traits that any NBA coach would love to have in his team’s superstar. Doc Rivers gushed as much after the Sixers’ loss Tuesday night to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The problem for Doc was that he was talking about the visiting team’s star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and not his own “superstar,” Ben Simmons.

“That’s what I liked about him. He’s just defiant,” Rivers said in reference to Antetokounmpo’s performance last season in helping the Bucks win their first title since 1971.

While Rivers didn’t directly mention Simmons, Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes couldn’t help but compare the disgruntled Sixers point guard to the Greek Freak. Both possess the size, length, and athleticism that typifies the modern NBA, both are elite defenders, and both struggle to shoot the basketball both from the free-throw line and the perimeter.

The key difference is that while Simmons shirks the moment and refuses to shoot, Giannis is fearless, even in the face of failure.

Simmons could learn a lot from Antetokounmpo, but unfortunately for the Sixers, at least in the short term, he seems unlikely to humble himself and do that.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

What qualities do you think characterize the best athletes? sports.daily@inquirer.com

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Early Birds

Happy Veterans Day to Jemal Singleton, the Eagles running backs coach who has been an Air Force officer, coach, and player. Singleton’s military upbringing and career have had an impact on how he teaches Eagles players.

The Eagles of late in fact have utilized more heavily the running backs Singleton has coached. Since Miles Sanders went down, Jordan Howard has come off the practice squad to score three touchdowns in two games, and now he has a spot on the active roster.

But for all the benefits that a successful running game can provide a struggling defense in slowing down the game, this defense in particular hasn’t taken advantage. Why is that? The coverage on short passes has been soft.

Extra Innings

There are many holes on the Phillies’ roster going into a big offseason for team president Dave Dombrowski. That includes left field and center field, which should take priority over a plan to upgrade at shortstop. But don’t expect two former first-round picks to be in the mix to start in the outfield on opening day. And if Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley are not contenders for even a platoon job in the outfield, it’s worth wondering whether they will be traded this offseason.

Off the Dribble

Tobias Harris could be back with the 76ers as soon as tonight’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

Harris is listed as questionable after spending 10 days away from the team to recover from COVID-19. The power forward, who is vaccinated, tested positive 40 minutes before a Nov. 1 game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

There was some thought that Harris could be out more than the allotted 10 days as he struggled with congestion and fatigue through the early days of his bout with the virus. Rivers touched on Harris’ status days after the initial diagnosis: “It hit him, for sure. A lot of guys have had this and they are mad, like, ‘What the hell? I’m fine.’ Tobias is not in that category right now, I can tell you that.”

Next: The Sixers suit up against the Raptors tonight at 7 at the Wells Fargo Center.

On the Fly

The Flyers huffed and puffed Wednesday night but ultimately failed to blow the house down.

The Orange and Black fired 36 shots on goal but were shut out, 3-0, by Jack Campbell and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The power play continues to be a big concern for the Flyers, who are 2 for their last 21 after an 0-for-4 showing against the Leafs.

Next: The Flyers will be traveling to Raleigh on Thursday for their Friday night tilt with the Metro-leading Carolina Hurricanes. The puck drops at 7, and the game will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Fleet Street

It has been less than a year since Brenden Aaronson left the Union and landed at Red Bull Salzburg. Even he has been surprised by his rapid rise to stardom. Aaronson, 21, will be with the U.S. men’s national team for its World Cup qualifying showdown with archrival Mexico on Friday.

Worth a look

  • Rush hour: Penn State will have its hands full with No. 9 Michigan this week. But the Nittany Lions’ biggest task might be trying to slow down Michigan’s pass rush led by defensive ends David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson. The two have combined for 15 sacks through nine games.

  • Blue(r) pastures? Temple lost one of its top wide receivers as redshirt junior Jadan Blue announced he has entered the transfer portal. Blue was leading the Owls in receptions with 30, and in 2019 became the only Temple receiver to amass more than 1,000 yards (1,067).

  • Misleading Mr. Rodgers: It’s not merely the weak non-apology from NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers for being less than truthful about his vaccination status and putting teammates, reporters and other staff and workers at risk. It’s that he, someone rich and privileged who made a poor choice, painted himself as a victim after he previously spoke out on behalf of those truly marginalized.