It’s been an eventful time for 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle during the pandemic. A person who admittedly doesn’t like to run, he jogged on the streets of Philadelphia to stay in shape.
But it was what he did by walking that had more impact.
Thybulle, Tobias Harris and general manager Elton Brand took part in the protest march last month in Philadelphia, declaring the end of police brutality and social injustice as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
During a Zoom media call on Friday, Thybulle said the impact the veteran Harris has had on him has been substantial.
“I think for me it’s always been really important to just to back your words with actions so I think actions speak volumes and it helps to have a guy like Tobias as like a big brother and a teammate and a friend who can be a part of these things and encouraged me to do these types of things and just also be in a city where the turnout and the passion behind this movement is so strong,” Thybulle said.
In his own way, by taking part in the event, Thybulle was hoping to lead others the way Harris did for him.
“I felt compelled like. I mean, if one kid sees me out there doing that and it encourages them to support the movement, then my job is done,” he said. “But for me, it’s just in my own personal life I want to actually be a part in putting myself in those situations as opposed to this talking about them and retweeting them.”
Thybulle said he was moved by being part of the event.
“I think it was a huge learning experience,” he said. “I think for a lot of reasons, there’s something special about seeing that many people in one place and support of one thing. It’s one thing to have a lot of voices out there and like I said before, there’s another thing for people to show up actually act it out.”
On a hot Saturday afternoon, the march began on the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps. The protesters proceeded along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to City Hall.
“I mean when we were out there, it was like 90 degrees and super humid so like it wasn’t fun,” he said. “And so with that being said, to see all the people still showed up and stuck it out through our whole, whole march, says a lot to I think our city and also just the seriousness which people are taking these issues.”
As for the basketball portion, Thybulle, who lives in Center City, had to do something he’s not crazy about to stay in shape.
“I don’t like running, I really don’t like it, but through quarantine thing, it was my only choice,” he said. “I live in an apartment building and the place isn’t big enough to run circles or do any sort of basketball work, so it was just going around the city and running.”
For Matisse, running had to suffice.
“It is obviously not a basketball-type conditioning but it kept me at a cardio-fitness level to where now, that we’ve come back and started I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, that I had a really solid base on to build off of,” he said. “In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I have gotten into really good shape.”
The 6-foot-5 Thybulle has become a rotation player mainly due to his defense this season. He is averaging 4.7 points in 19.5 minutes. Possessing a 7-foot wingspan, he ranks 22nd in the NBA in steals, averaging 1.4 per game. All 21 players in front of Thybulle average at least five minutes more per game.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Thybulle is 12th in the NBA in defensive RAPTOR with a rating of 3.5. RAPTOR is a plus-minus statistic that measures the number of points a player contributes to his team’s offense and defense per 100 possessions, relative to a league-average player. This means Thybulle improves the Sixers’ defensive performance by 3.5 points per 100 possessions while he is on the floor. (Thybulle also has a -1.8 offensive Raptor).