Gratitude, maturity and ‘Politics as Usual' — Sixers react to ASG selections


With their franchise cornerstone center shooting a season-worst 3 for 11 Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, the Sixers needed significant contributions from Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris.

Those two helped guide the Sixers over the Raptors, 109-102, despite Joel Embiid’s off night. Harris had 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists, while Simmons posted 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Only one of the two is an All-Star, though, which naturally meant the Sixers had a mix of emotions heading into Tuesday’s game.

After learning that Simmons was selected by the NBA’s head coaches as an All-Star for a third season in a row and Harris wasn’t one of the Eastern Conference’s seven reserves, head coach Doc Rivers was asked for his reaction. 

“I was really happy for Ben,” he said. “I was pretty positive he would make it. Coaches look at the whole game; they look at all the things that Ben does. It’s funny, every coach I talked to — literally every Eastern coach I talked to, when I said, ‘Hey, I’m calling on behalf of Ben and Tobias,’ they were like, ‘Ben? Why are you calling about him?’ It was funny how they looked at it and how the outside world looked at it. I thought that was interesting. I was pretty confident. I told Ben, ‘There’s no way you’re not (in).’ 

“I was really hoping for Tobias. I do believe he deserves it. He’s been an All-Star player this year for us. We have the best record in the East. Because of that and the way he’s played, I thought he deserved to be on it. I think we have to keep analyzing how guys get numbers and how they affect winning.”

Rivers thought Harris dealt with the news as well as one possibly could. 

“He’s as mature as anybody in our locker room, including the coaches,” Rivers said. “He’s just a mature kid. He clearly wanted to make it, and I clearly wanted him to make it. But the best way to handle the disappointment is go out and show people you can play. Go out and get 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and two blocked shots. That’s what Tobias has been doing all year. Maybe we keep winning and go win the whole thing, and then next year he will be on it. ... Hopefully, that’s the case for him.”

In a statement to The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, Harris’ agent and father, Torrel Harris, called his son’s exclusion from the All-Star Game “very disappointing.”

Harris conveyed his feelings through a postgame tweet. He apparently considers the All-Star choices “Politics as Usual.”

Simmons appreciates the recognition from the league's head coaches and said he indeed intends to play in the All-Star Game itself, which is scheduled for March 7 in Atlanta. He’s stayed consistent, though, in stating that an All-Star appearance isn’t his primary individual goal.

“It means a lot,” Simmons said. “It’s a blessing. I don’t take it for granted. There’s a lot of talented guys out there. The mentality I have every season is to come in and try to win, and everything else will take care of itself.

"I don’t go for individual accolades unless it’s Defensive Player of the Year, which I want to get this year. I think I should be up there for that. But I want to compete; I want to play against the best players every night and show why I’m in this league.”

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