Jrue Holiday is in a unique position with the 76ers. His coach, Doug Collins, was selected by the Sixers with the first overall pick in the 1973 draft and became a four-time all-star. Assistant coach Aaron McKie starred at Simon Gratz High and Temple, and was the top sixth man in the league when the Sixers reached the NBA Finals in 2001.
Holiday hears their voices every day. The 21-year-old point guard knows their place in this city's storied basketball history. On Wednesday, as the Sixers closed training camp, Holiday, easily the most improved player on the roster last season, made an interesting comment.
"I want to be an all-star," he began. "It's something I've dreamed of. I've dreamed of winning a national championship and I've dreamed of being an Olympian. That's where the very best players in the league end up - the Olympics. I think I'm going to go there and watch them this year so I can get a feel for the atmosphere. I think that will be real cool."
Pressed, a grinning Holiday admitted that he'll probably make the trip to London in 2012 to support his girlfriend, Lauren Cheney, a member of the U.S. national women's soccer team and a forward for the Boston Breakers.
But Holiday is starting to think big things for himself. While starting all 82 games in only his second season, Holiday averaged 14.0 points, a team-high 6.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds. In the playoffs, when the Sixers were eliminated by Miami in five games, it was Holiday's play that attracted the most notice in a series that saw the Sixers take a 10-point lead in four games.
As a rookie making 51 starts, Holiday averaged 8.0 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 boards.
After a sloppy scrimmage that Collins attributed to his team's tired legs, the coach reiterated that he believes Holiday eventually can rank among the top five point guards in the league.
"I think he's got a chance to be a fantastic player," Collins said. "He's very respectful and he wants to learn."
Collins spoke of the bond the two have developed.
"I'm not going to speak for him, but I thought as the year went on I felt we got more and more connected," Collins said. "I think I can look at him now and say one little thing and he knows what we need at that particular time. That's a great thing between a guard and a coach."
Of course, before some of these great things can happen for Holiday - who made it a point to emphasize that the success of the team is far more important than individual accolades - the Sixers have to get out to a good start when the season begins in 11 days.
"We can't get off to a slow start," Holiday said, alluding to the Sixers' five consecutive road games against Western Conference opponents. "That could kill us.
"I think we're focused on that. Coach has done a good job of keeping our eyes on that."