With the 76ers playing Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Monday in Atlanta, coach Doc Rivers is headed to the place where he played the first eight seasons of his 13-year NBA career.
Earlier in the week, Sixers reserve George Hill said that Rivers often has a lot of fun with the players, telling them about his prowess as a point guard.
“I really don’t know what type of player he was; in his eyes he said he was one of the elite,” Hill said, cracking up when speaking.
Hill said there has been a lot of fun trash talk, with Rivers telling about his playing career, which ended in 1996 with the San Antonio Spurs.
“He talks a little trash at practice about how good of a past player [he was],” Hill said. “He’s a very confident coach and a very confident player, and you like that, and it’s all fun and games and we have a good time with it.”
Rivers did earn one All-Star berth and still is the Hawks’ career leader with 3,866 assists.
Before Game 3 on Friday in Atlanta, Rivers talked about the back and forth he has with his players about his playing career.
“It is just fun. I mean, honestly, I usually talk about how bad I was more than how good I was. But every once in a while when I bring up something that I did, like they don’t believe I could jump at all, one of the young guys said that,” Rivers said.
Then he explained to his players about his former jumping ability.
“I said, ‘You guys do know I am named Doc, it’s not after a real doctor, it’s after a guy who used to be able to jump,” Rivers said, referring to Julius Erving. “But we give it back, they love giving it to me. And God forbid they find old footage, they like that even more because when they do, I see it, let me put it that way.”
Tobias Harris a finalist for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award
Tobias Harris of the 76ers is among five finalists for the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award.
The annual award was created to recognize a current NBA player for pursuing social justice efforts and and upholding the league’s decades-long values of equality, respect, and inclusion.
The other finalists are Portland forward Carmelo Anthony, Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes, Milwaukee guard and former Sixer Jrue Holiday, and Golden State forward Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Throughout 2020, Harris used his voice and platform to speak out against systemic injustice and racism, marching in protest of police brutality, calling for reform while in the NBA bubble and reflecting on racial injustice in The Players’ Tribune.
In addition, the Tobias Harris Charitable Fund has awarded $2 million to promote educational equity. For instance, this year he awarded $300,000 to the School District of Philadelphia to recruit teachers from HBCUs or diverse backgrounds.
In addition, his Lit Labs program, which focuses on improving reading scores among students of diverse backgrounds, has distributed 30,000 books to 8,000 Philadelphia children to prevent summer reading gaps.
The winner among the five NBA finalists will select an organization to receive a $100,000 contribution on his behalf. The other four finalists will each select an organization to receive a $25,000 contribution.
Harris, who will turn 29 on July 15, is in his 10th -- and arguably his best -- season in the NBA. He entered Friday averaging 23.9 points in his first seven playoff games this season.
Outside basketball, he has long been known for his community service, and in 2018-2019 he was among 10 finalists for the NBA Community Assist Award
Hunter a big loss for Hawks
Hawks forward Solomon Hill started the first two games against the Sixers because teammate and Philadelphia product De’Andre Hunter missed both with right knee soreness. On Wednesday, Hunter was declared out for the postseason because of a small tear in the lateral meniscus that will require surgery.
During Friday’s shootaround, Hill talked about what big shoes it will be to fill.
“He is [key] to what we want to do around here,” Hill said. “He didn’t go out and average 20 in the New York series, but he is a huge reason we won that series. It was under my belief he would be a huge reason we would make it to the Finals. It’s about opportunity. Next man up.”