It took a few days to get Anthony Tolliver up to speed — and cleared through health and safety protocols — but the veteran forward is ready for his Philadelphia 76ers debut. Whether he plays two minutes or 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter to him.
Tolliver explained that he didn’t come to Philly to be the “savior” — far from it, instead, the 35-year-old wants to lead and mentor. He’s been a sharpshooter throughout his 12-year NBA career and fully expects to knock down shots for the Sixers. When he’s not on the court, look for him chirping in the ears of the younger guys on the bench. He also knows Tobias Harris from their days together on the Detroit Pistons.
“I’m just here to support in any way, try to lead these young guys not necessarily in the roration because I’ve been there,” Tolliver told reporters on Wednesday, “And from experience, that can actually help a team a lot by just helping the guys who aren’t playing, keeping them prepared. Probably not the average answer you hear but for me, it’s bigger than just coming here and playing a bunch of minutes.”
The 6-foot-8, 240-pounder revealed that he had a few other offers, but chose the Sixers because it was a “really a great fit.” Luckily, Tolliver has a half-court gym at his home in Dallas and ran it back at least twice a week with friends and former players. He also coached his oldest son’s basketball team — Isaiah, age 8 — and enjoyed family time. He was happy living a semi-retired life until the Sixers called. He can’t remember exactly how or when.
“They are all kind of running together now, but I got the call and they asked if I was in shape,” Tolliver said. “I said, ‘Absolutely,’ and they said, ‘How soon can you jump on a plane?’ I said, ‘In about two hours.’ So I kissed all my kids, kissed my wife and said, ‘See you later. We will figure it out.’”
Tolliver also figured out how to troll his critics quickly on social media, including this gem aimed at a Sixers fan questioning his defense.
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Tolliver Ready to Help Sixers Out
Tolliver hasn’t suited up since August 13, 2020, when he scored nine points as a starter for the Memphis Grizzlies. He averages 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game while shooting 41.5% from the field for his career. He knows his experience and outside shooting can help the Sixers win a championship.
“I’m not the savior,” Tolliver said. “I’m not here to win a championship for the team by myself. It’s just the little things behind the scenes that go a long way.”
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers sees a veteran who can shoot. It’s that simple.
“He’s a veteran, can shoot the ball, he’s been around the block,” Rivers said of Tolliver. “Which I think this team needs, so I think he can help in that regard.”
Rivers Expresses Appreciation for Joel Embiid
Prior to the Sixers-Nets game, Rivers was asked to comment on what he’s seen out of Joel Embiid. The long-time coach had prepared his teams to battle Embiid as the opposition but watching him work every day in the gym has been a treat. He never realized how smart the All-Star big man was. His basketball intelligence is off the charts.
“You don’t know a player until you coach one, or I guess until you play with one,” Rivers told reporters. “Everything that he’s done I had seen on film, but he’s better at it — it’s hard to judge a guy’s basketball IQ unless you’re in the gym every day. To me, that is what has stood out to me, just his ability to read situations. He’s just a really talented, skilled, very smart basketball player.”