In some ways, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris is attempting to take a Zen approach to his latest exclusion from the NBA All-Star Game. On Friday, the 10-year veteran spoke about moving on, feeling confident he would get another shot at it and focusing on the current playoff race.
On the other hand, Harris clearly has a bone to pick with those responsible for leaving him out once again. While he did his best to put on a brave face in the wake of obvious disappointment, he also made a point to put his critics, detractors and those that overlooked him on notice.
“Me and Doc [Rivers] talked about it, I just told him ‘look, I got a bounty out for coaches that didn’t vote for me, all the national media that skipped over me’,” he said after helping his squad to a win over the Washington Wizards.
Two opposing coaches have already paid the price.
Harris Is Having His Best Year to Date
Harris has been performing at a high level for the better part of a decade at this point. However, his 2020-21 campaign is sizing up to be the best performance of his career.
Through Friday’s action, the 28-year-old is averaging 20.2 points, nearly eight rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. While those numbers are eye-popping in and of themselves, his efficiency as a shooter and scorer is what has truly set his effort this season apart.
Harris is posting a career-high effective field goal percentage of 56.7, which comes as the result of an overall conversion rate north of 50 percent and 40-percent shooting from three-point range. He also continues to be one of the league’s most reliable foul shooters.
Those numbers, combined with the fact that the Sixers were the best team in the Eastern Conference during the first half of the season, had seemingly given Harris his best-ever shot at selection.
It wasn’t the first time he was in the All-Star mix, though. He made a similarly strong push for consideration in 2019 as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.
And yet, he has still yet to suit up in an All-Star Game.
Passed Over by Both Conferences
The 2018-19 season represented a seismic shift for the Clippers organization. After having already parted with point-man Chris Paul, the team had officially closed the book on the Lob City era by moving on from Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
But rather than fading back into obscurity or hunting for ping-pong balls, the Clippers were surprisingly competitive in the Wild West. With Harris, Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari leading the way, the team was a force to be reckoned with and a fixture in the playoff race.
Although the surprising success resulted from what was an impressive group effort — and Doc Rivers’ direction on the sidelines — Harris was clearly steering the ship, posting numbers not dissimilar to his current line in Philadelphia.
In the end, though, he was excluded from the mid-season classic; forced to watch as LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs took the spot that would have been his. Even Dirk Nowitzki, who had not played at an All-Star level for some time, was able to participate as an honorary selection by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Harris made it clear on Friday that he is now focused on other things. Specifically, the Sixers’ quest to make some major noise during postseason play.
“It is what it is, but, you know, me and Doc both discussed, you make your name known in the playoffs and leading this team and being solid in what you do day in and day out,” he said.
“You move on,” he finished. “You move on with life…”