Harris talks Sixers' chemistry, player safety as NBA approaches hopeful return

Dave Uram
June 29, 2020 - 8:56 am

    PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Some consider the 76ers to be a “sleeper” team in the NBA, if the league restarts game play in a month. Commissioner Adam Silver says he has some concerns about the number of cases in Florida, where NBA's campus will be located.

    One of the reasons some believe the Sixers can shock teams this summer is their potential — which they did not reach during the regular season.

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    Sixers forward Tobias Harris was very honest about that on Friday in an appearance on ESPN.

    "I’ll keep it real. We haven’t had the best chemistry throughout the whole year. It took us a while to kinda get everyone together. We battled injuries from the start to the end, and right now, if we’re the sleeper, then we’re the sleeper."

    Harris believes the Sixers are capable of winning it all. Their first seeding game in Disney is Saturday, Aug. 1, against Indiana.

    On Friday, the NBA announced 16 players of 302 tests taken on June 23 came back positive.

    Harris told ESPN he wasn’t surprised by those numbers, saying the key thing for the players is to be put in a situation where they can stay healthy.

    "If we’re gonna be safe, then let’s play. ... If my fellow brothers in the NBA wanna go out and play, I’m with playing," he said. "Do I think necessarily it’s the safest thing? No."

    Harris says the 76ers have a chance to take advantage of a unique situation. 

    "And, at the end of the day, I believe that when we go out here and go hoop, we have a chance to win a championship. We're gonna be healthy — a lot healthier than we were before. Having Ben (Simmons) to be recovered and fully healed (from his back injury) is big for us, and we just gotta go out there and play basketball."

    Even though the NBA plans to restart games in about a month, there is concern about the number of coronavirus cases in Florida. 

    “We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than outside it,” Silver said Friday afternoon. “But the signal we are sending is this is definitely not business as usual. This is far from an ideal way to finish our season, and it will require tremendous sacrifices from all those involved.”

    Silver said, if there were a significant spread of the virus within the Disney campus, “that might lead us to stopping.” 

    He said the league is still working with players and health officials to determine how many cases it would take to shut down the season. 

    “Ultimately, whether it’s fighting racism or a pandemic, we’re coming back — because sports matter in our society,” Silver said. “They bring people together when we need it the most, and they can show how we can balance public health and economic necessity.”

    Players Association President and Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Chris Paul said players have an important voice beyond the arena.

    “We all understand how powerful our voice is,” Paul said. “Even if we’re back to playing, our voice can still be heard ... on an unbelievable platform. You’re going to continue to hear us. It’s never a ‘shut up and dribble’ situation. You’re going to continue to hear us.”

    ESPN reports the NBA and the players union are talking about letting players replace the names on the back of their jerseys with messages promoting social justice or other causes.


    The Associated Press contributed to this report.