Following the blockbuster trade Tuesday between the Clippers and 76ers that sent Tobias Harris to Philadelphia, The Athletic’s Jovan Buha re-published a longform piece (subscription required) from last October informing Sixers fans about their newest star. Though the majority of Buha’s content covers Harris’ adventures into and through his most recent NBA stop, much of it covers the early years when Spurs great George Gervin worked closely with the Harris family.
Here are some of the more interesting tidbits covered in Buha’s article:
- Although Gervin worked with all six children, “no Harris kid absorbed The Iceman’s tricks more than Tobias. If Tobias Harris has a signature move in the NBA, it’s using his versatile size and craftiness to bump past a smaller defender or to blow by a bigger one to get into the paint and finish around the basket — oftentimes with a runner, a floater or a hook shot. He learned that, of course, from Gervin.”
- Tobias’ father Torrel and Gervin were acquainted with each other in Torrel’s teen years. Torrel later was hired by Gervin in the late 80s as his agent during his brief stints playing basketball in Europe. Gervin recalled Tobias standing out among the Harris children. “He loved the game of basketball. He just loved playing it. To me, at a young age he played it the right way. He was talented. He could shoot the ball. He showed that passion for the game as a youngster.”
- “Gervin’s voice has remained a constant throughout Harris’ basketball journey. The two still train each summer, no matter how busy either one is, and they continue to refine the process. During the season, Harris and Gervin text regularly and talk on the phone once a month. Gervin watches most of Harris’ games and provides feedback without overstepping his place as an uncle and mentor.”
- Gervin also credits former Spur Doc Rivers for giving Harris his first real opportunity. “I felt the first years of his pro career, he wasn’t around coaches that took advantage of his skill level . . . I think Doc sees some things in him and can keep bringing that mental aspect of the game out of him to where he can get even better.”
- Harris’ father expressed a sentiment that, in light of the Clippers checkered history with botched player movement, may have been better off not being said. “When it’s all said and done, he’s probably going to be a Clipper . . . everything moves in the right direction, he’ll probably be a long-term Clipper. We’re hoping. We like that. That’s what we want.” Oof.
- One of the things that Harris seemed to lack going into this season was “selectively look for his shot more.” Gervin noted, “I think that’s what’s hard for him. He’s not selfish. Sometimes to get these accolades and honors, you have to be a little more selfish.”
- The article ends with a directive that Gervin repeatedly pounded into Harris over the years: “‘You ain’t nothing until you make the Hall of Fame. The surest way to get there is to win championships.’ It’s the reason why Harris spent all of those hours in San Antonio training with Gervin.”
Though Pop’s far-reaching coaching tree throughout the league is well chronicled here, it is very rewarding to see our own Spurs legends having a lasting impact on this current generation of NBA players.