Tobias Harris Details ‘Painful Moment’: Why Sixers Weren’t Losing to Nets

Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons

Getty Sixers forward Tobias Harris scored a game-high 24 points against Brooklyn while battling a twisted ankle.

It didn’t look good when Tobias Harris crashed to the floor in the third quarter. He was already dealing with a left hip injury, then he collided with Kevin Durant in the paint and twisted his ankle in a way no foot is supposed to turn. Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers revealed that one of the Brooklyn Nets coaches looked at him and said: “it’s bad.”

But Harris was on a mission to stay in the game. The Sixers were down three starters – Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, James Harden – and he was going to do everything in his power to gut it out. Harris walked back to the locker room, stopping in the hallway to do some quick meditation before declaring himself good to go. He came back in and threw down a nasty dunk.

“It was painful at the moment,” Harris told reporters. “I went back into the locker room and just even today before the game, not fully 100%, but, for me, I wasn’t allowing us to go out there with four starters on the bench. So, I came back in the third quarter, did a little stuff in the hallway here, and I said, ‘I’m good enough to go give something’ and then went out there and did a crazy dunk.”

Harris finished with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field. The veteran forward added 6 rebounds and 3 assists in a 115-106 win that doubled as Ben Simmons’ homecoming. Harris had extra juice all night and looked animated in team huddles. How much of that energy was aimed at sending a message to his former teammate?

“Zero percent,” Harris said. “It was more so about our group, being short-handed, and truth be told, the guys that we have out there on the court are amazing players who everyone has a story and a journey of how they fought for this position. I’m always kind of like a barometer of the team, of keeping our energy and our spirit right through the ups and downs of the season.”

Harris Likely Game-Time Decision vs. Charlotte

The Sixers have a quick turnaround as the team travels to Charlotte to battle the Hornets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 23. Harris’ status is very much up in the air, although his mindset is to play – bad ankle and all.

“I’m going to wake up and see how I feel,” Harris said after Tuesday’s win. “But, to be honest, over the course of my career I always plan to play. That’s always my mindset and mind frame, obviously we’ll see how I feel when I wake up, but my mindset is to be out there.”

Harris used meditation to overcome pain against Brooklyn in a contest he refused to lose. Again, it had nothing to do with beating Simmons. The Sixers have three straight road games ahead and losing on their home floor wasn’t an option.

“I was back there, obviously at that point, I was thinking either a strain or a sprained ankle,” Harris said. “[The trainers were saying] maybe we should get you out. I was just like, ‘No, I’m going back out there.’ I feel like this is a huge win for us and a huge win for us to get. I knew going into the game that we were all going to come out with this type of energy, and this type of buzz to get up to play a great game, and I wanted to be a part of it. I just took a moment to gather my thoughts and my mindset and go back out there.”

Doc Rivers Praises Harris’ Toughness, Competitive Spirit

Doc Rivers would never debate the competitive spirit of any of his players, least of whom Harris. He has battled a rash of injuries in recent years, including an unfortunate bout with COVID-19 in 2021. He famously tweeted that “every W is healing me” when fans asked how he was feeling at the time. So, it’s really no surprise he wanted to be on the court so badly on Tuesday night.

“Tobias wanted to win that game, you can feel it,” Rivers said. “For whatever reason he wanted to win, but because of that he was in his own way. Going back in the locker room, meditate and whatever he did, you can see a different guy when he came back out and that was good for us.”

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