Media Day 2023 has arrived for the Philadelphia 76ers, which signals the start of a new year. The Sixers arrive at media day in a similar situation to the one they were in two years ago. There were some common themes and messages among the team. Take a look at some of the themes talked about on Monday:
Control What You Can Control
If there was one question that everyone had to answer during Monday’s media day was about the large elephant in the room. The main topic of discussion was James Harden’s lack of attendance at media day and his continued request to be traded out of Philadelphia. Moments before the press conference was supposed to start, both NBA Insiders Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harden would not be in attendance. His attendance was never really in question, as he is still pushing for a move to the Los Angeles Clippers.
New head coach Nick Nurse and President of Basketball Ops Daryl Morey both addressed Harden during their presser. Morey stated, “He’s not here today. He continues to seek a trade, and we’re working with his representation to resolve this in the best way possible for the 76ers and hopefully all parties.” Morey answered all questions head-on and expects Harden to be at training camp just like the rest of the players.
The players, on the other hand, responded to the questions with mostly the same answers. Joel Embiid responded to questions about Harden with the following:
“It’s been unfortunate what’s been going on, but the goal is to be together and try to win a championship. As far as for myself, that’s all I’m focused on. I just want to win. Whatever it takes and whatever puts us in a position, that is all I care about.”
PJ Tucker provided his take on Harden’s situation as well when asked:
“That’s my brother, no matter what. Our relationship goes way beyond basketball…Whatever happens, happens. The rest of us have to come here and are going to work and get ready to play.”
The sentiment was the same through all the players, they can only control what they can. That means although this Harden situation is a distraction, they have to focus on the basketball court and getting ready for the season with a new coach and new philosophies. The players would love to welcome Harden back with open arms, but if he does not show up, they will play with the guys they have. That is the mentality they used during the Ben Simmons drama, and it will have to be the mentality they use right now.
The Mad Scientist
Another theme of today’s festivities was surrounded around Nick Nurse and his unique coaching style. Players talked about what to expect from his coaching or what they expect from their role under Nurse. Tobias Harris, who got lost in an offense the last two seasons that was centered around Joel Embiid Harden, said he expected to be in a different role this year. He expects his role to expand, participating in more pick and rolls with Joel Embiid. He also mentioned that he should get more opportunities for post-ups and get a chance to push the pace in transition by grabbing the rebound and going coast to coast.
The reigning MVP also mentioned Nurse’s tactics, “New coach, trying to learn a new system; hopefully, there are no growing pains…I loved playing against him; you never knew what he would do…he had you guessing all the time.” He emphasized ball movement and how he expected to share the ball more this season because he didn’t like it when the offense got stagnant.
Danny Green, who is returning to the 76ers after a year with the Grizzlies and Cavaliers, said one of the biggest reasons he returned to Philly was because Nurse had become the head coach. He talked about his scheme and how the players had to trust him even if they didn’t necessarily understand in the beginning. He mentioned the 2019 Finals when Nurse brought out the triangle and two defenses and the box and one defense against Steph Curry. Both defenses are unconventional in the NBA, and it took the Warriors some time to get used to it.
“You have to trust in him; he’s going to trust in us, but you know, expect the unexpected. He’s going to throw some different things out there. It will be fun at times, and sometimes it will be confusing.”— Danny Green
76ers Veterans Thankful for Another Year
There was also a theme of the day for the veterans that the 76ers recently signed and how thankful they are to still be able to play and contribute. Danny Green and Patrick Beverley both mentioned how thankful they were for still being able to play in the later years of their career. Danny expressed how good his body felt after not playing for a year due to the knee injury he sustained in the playoffs while playing for the 76ers previously. Beverley talked about doing the work to stay in the league and help teams be competitive. He is hoping that his preparation for the game will rub off on other players and increase their basketball IQ.
Another veteran who recently signed with the 76ers had a totally different outlook on the 76ers and signing in Philadelphia. Kelly Oubre Jr. signed with Philadelphia only a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that he was pursued by the front office all off-season. Their persistence was key to him deciding to sign in Philadelphia. He also mentioned that he was glad that he could finally play for a winning team that he considered a “well-oiled machine”. Oubre went on to say:
“This team wins every year, right? The fan base wants them to win more, but I come from teams where they have no hope. Like zero hope within the whole city, and that’s not this at all. So, I appreciate the fan base for being hard on the team.”
This year’s media day was expected to have fireworks, with the James Harden drama overshadowing the team, but the team did a good job trying to fan the flames publicly. Although today didn’t have as many drama-laden quotes, you can expect things to heat up once the 76ers start camp and truly prepare for the season. Fines and verbal warfare through the media are on the way.