NEW YORK — Holiday music could be heard in the Sixers' locker room shortly before their Christmas Day matinee game against the Knicks.
Veteran Amir Johnson scrolled through his phone, selecting songs to set the tone of the season. Around the room, boxes of Beats by Dre headphones were at each locker, a gift from Ben Simmons. Players talked about their families making the quick trip from Philadelphia to New York City to be together.
Monday was a work day for the Sixers, but the team still was in the holiday mood.
The Sixers kicked off Christmas early with a Secret Santa before leaving for Toronto last week. It's an annual tradition by Brett Brown, one the players look forward to.
"It's dope," Johnson said. "It brings the team together. It's just something fun, gets your mind off of basketball. It shows you what Christmas is about — giving and sharing."
The gift givers will remain anonymous for the sake of maintaining the secret in Secret Santa. Players could keep their gift or swap it with a teammate based on their number in the selection order.
Richaun Holmes held on to his limited edition Air Forces Ones. Johnson did the same with his Louis Vuitton scarf and matching hat.
Trevor Booker received Creed cologne and traded it to Justin Anderson for an MCM backpack. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot got a watch he exchanged with Jacob Pullen for a Common Project backpack. After all the Secret Santa transactions, Pullen ended up with a Gucci wallet.
"It keeps you in the Christmas spirit," Holmes said. "Being around great guys like this, always wanting to give, it makes it fun to be around them and it brings us closer together."
The Sixers then gave a gift back to Philadelphia — a victory over the Knicks.