It hit T.J. McConnell on the team bus ride over to the Wells Fargo Center.
The Indiana Pacers passed by all the sights he used to notice every day during his four years with the 76ers.
“It’s good being back, seeing all of the faces and all of the people you build a relationship with,” McConnell, now a Pacer, said before Saturday’s against the Sixers. “It’s a lot of great people here, and I miss them.”
The Sixers didn’t re-sign McConnell when his contract expired on June 30.
So the 27-year-old signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Pacers on July 29. McConnell has been a solid addition as the third point guard. He averaged 7.1 points, 4.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 17.8 minutes heading into Saturday’s game.
“We knew he played with a lot of grit,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. “That was the reason for bringing him in.”
As a third point guard, the Pacers wanted McConnell to challenge his teammates and bring his trademark toughness to the floor. He’s also being asked to help the Pacers change their tempo with his ability to push the pace.
“He’s gotten into the game, and he’s done a good job for us," McMillan said. “He’s a scrapper. He puts his head into everything. He has a good feel for the game.”
Being gritty and a scrapper are two of the things that made McConnell a fan favorite as a Sixer. He came to Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent on Sept. 22, 2015 and worked his way into the rotation. As a Sixer, McConnell averaged 6.4 points, 4.7 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 22.0 minutes in 314 games, including 72 starts.
The team left a framed Sixers jersey at this locker and played a video tribute to him during the game.
McConnell, a Pittsburgh native, said he had about 20 visitors at the game and has fond memories of the Sixers.