Patrick Beverley

New Sixer Beverley shows passion and humor, recalls ‘wild story' of history with Nurse 

The veteran guard hopes to play with James Harden again.

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CAMDEN, N.J. — There’s no way to duplicate Patrick Beverley, who’s built much of his professional basketball life upon being an extremely persistent pest to opponents and embracing all things gritty. 

Beverley shared that same view of James Harden’s unique game on Monday afternoon. 

Before posing for photos with his new No. 22 Sixers jersey — Beverley joked that he wanted No. 21, which happens to be taken by MVP Joel Embiid — the veteran guard made it very clear he hopes Harden stays a Sixer.

“That decision is definitely above my pay grade,” Beverley said from the lobby of the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. “You can’t redo a James Harden so hell yeah, you want him here. Hell yeah, you want him in the locker room. Hell yeah, you want him on the first day of practice.

“One of my (reasons) for coming here is James Harden was here. So I hope he stays. I hope everybody can work something out or put that behind us and move forward. I think it’s important.”

Beverley began his NBA career alongside Harden on the Houston Rockets. With Harden’s future uncertain after he picked up his player option and asked the Sixers to explore trades, Beverley wants another run as teammates.

“I love him. James, I love you, bro,” Beverley said with a laugh. “Stay. But yeah, James is a really good friend of mine — really, really good friend of mine. Our moms are best friends. Coming into the NBA with Houston, it was me and him for six years — my starting buddy. So I’m very familiar with James and I’m excited. I’m excited to get it going. He knows I’m here, so we’ll see.”

Former Clipper Tobias Harris and former Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Nick Nurse are other notable Sixers connections from Beverley’s past. 

Beverley described his history with Nurse as a “wild story.” He remembered declining Nurse’s pitch to join his Iowa Energy team in the D League, instead choosing to play in Ukraine, and winding back up with Nurse for three D League games during the 2012-13 season. Eleven years later, he’ll presumably have a significantly longer stint with the Sixers’ new head coach. 

“I get kicked out of school at Arkansas, unfortunately, and my decision (was) either going overseas or playing in the D League,” Beverley said. “Me and my mom, we sit down with this coach. I guess he was the coach for the Iowa Energy at the time; it was Nick Nurse. I had to tell him to his face, ‘Yeah, I’m not coming to your D League team.’ Fast forward four or five years: Houston Rockets, I’m in the D League, and I’m playing for RGV. 

“He was great; he knows basketball. His background, pedigree comes from Europe, and that’s always respected. I like what he does — a ton of threes, playing fast. But in order to play fast, you have to get stops. He’s a championship coach. He’s done it at a high level and he’s done it in the East, which is hard. So I’m excited. I’m excited to work.”

Characteristically, Beverley’s passion, confidence and humor were abundant in his first session with Philadelphia-area reporters. 

All of the above featured in his response to a question about the challenges of defending taller players. 

“I just go out there and be me,” Beverley said. “I’ve been fortunate to be kind of small in size but big in heart, you might say. I live in the weight room, so my strength for a normal 6-1 guy isn’t normal. I trust my training when it comes to that point. But I’m a basketball player. You can put me out there on anybody. ... I’m going to find a way to impact winning and lead the team. So yeah, that just comes with the nature of the beast in the NBA. 

“I swear to God, I wish I was 6-5. I promise you. Mom, I wish you would’ve found a guy that was a little taller than dad. But unfortunately, I’m 6-1. I don’t think that s---'s changing no time soon. But I can continue to get stronger for sure.”

Though Beverley will turn 35 years old Wednesday, he displayed zero doubts about his ability to help the Sixers go deeper in the playoffs. 

“I impact winning at every level,” he said. “I’m a guy who doesn’t hit a three, then comes in and hits four threes. Hits big threes. Gets stops, sacrifices his body, leads his team, leads the locker room — whatever it is to impact winning. And there’s a lot of ways you can impact winning without putting the ball in the hole. I think it's really important that people understand that. ... My leadership, my passion, my IQ for the game of basketball, it only gets better through time. 

“I take care of my body. I think LeBron (James) said he spent a million on his body. I’m damn near close. … I do the things I need to as a professional to be prepared every night. Age is nothing but a number and I’m excited. I can’t keep harping (enough) on my excitement to be here.”

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