Tobias Harris, the oft-overlooked heart of the Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris reacts after a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Having joined the Philadelphia 76ers at the 2018-19 season trade deadline, Tobias Harris is now the Sixers’ third-longest tenured player, with only Joel Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz surpassing him. Harris is also the only remaining member, apart from Embiid, of the 2019 starting five that almost made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite being a fixture in the starting lineup for his entire tenure with the Sixers so far, he has been a constant in the rumor mill. Despite that, he has yet to be traded or replaced despite the copious rumors flying on an annual basis.

Tobias Harris, Sixers
CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) dribbles the ball in a action during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on February 6, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Harris is an incredible force for the locker room. Between his friendship with Boban Marjanovic (affectionately dubbed Bobi and Tobi), his bond with Matisse Thybulle over reading books, and his recent friendship with Tyrese Maxey (and his dogs), Harris always finds a friend on the roster. Outside of these individual bonds, Harris is great for the locker room in general, always supporting his teammates in person and online. Harris invited the team to his wedding in the summer of 2022 and continues to show up for his teammates in their off-court endeavors as well.

Harris is also a brand ambassador for Crumbl Cookie, and in June of 2023, locations in the Philly area offered fans one free cookie each if Harris stayed with the Sixers after Harris said that casual Sixers fans would trade him “for a Crumbl Cookie.” This dedication to the Philly area — and willingness to take a joke — shows that the Long Island native has accepted Philadelphia as his new home.

Tobias Harris, Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) drives against Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Since joining the Sixers in 2019, Harris has had multiple All-Star close calls. Most notably, All-Star Tobi showed up during the shortened 2020-21 season, where Harris scraped the 40-50-90 club and averaged 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. During a tumultuous 2019-20 season involving COVID-19, coaching troubles, and anger from fans over letting star forward Jimmy Butler over the offseason, Harris also reached near-All-Star caliber, averaging over 20 points and 7.0 rebounds as well.

Harris, 31 and still in his prime, hasn’t necessarily fallen off, still averaging close to his All-Star caliber stats, but as Doc Rivers failed to prove himself as the right coach for the Sixers, Harris’ stats have faltered as well. Harris was previously coached by Rivers on the Los Angeles Clippers across the latter half of the 2017-18 season and the first half of the 2018-19 season before joining the Sixers.

Tobias Harris, Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (12) gestures after making a 3-point shot during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. The 76ers won 96-88. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Harris continues to support his teammates on and off the court, dancing with them during pregame shoot-around and congratulating them for their performances and achievements. Hopefully, under new head coach Nick Nurse, Harris will return to All-Star form and lead the Sixers to success, both as a player and as a veteran locker-room presence.