For first time in 10 years, Sixers player development specialist Remy Ndiaye will be home for Christmas

Sixers Digital (Studio 76)

For first time in 10 years, Sixers player development specialist Remy Ndiaye will be home for Christmas

Imagine coming to America from Dakar, Senegal, to play basketball when you were 18 years old. No family. No friends. You learn English by taking notes while you watch TV or listen to the radio. You don’t have a phone to communicate with your family, because you’re told it will help immerse you in the culture and improve your language.  At basketball practice, you hide behind the line and watch what everyone else does, and do your best to duplicate it.

You try to get your family to attend your college graduation from Dallas Baptist University after not seeing them for so many years, but twice, they are denied a Visa.

Sometimes you have some mental breakdowns, but that is what motivated me the most, honestly, to keep working hard, and just always think there is a reason why I am doing all of this.

For Remy Ndiaye, player development specialist for the Sixers, that reason is family, a family he hasn’t seen in over four years.

This is the story of sending Remy home.

It was a cold, grey morning outside of the Sixers practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, while forward Jonah Bolden was standing in front of his coaches and teammates, delivering a PowerPoint presentation on the subject of his choosing, artificial intelligence. (It's become a customary practice to players to speaking on a topic they're interested at the Sixers' monthly team breakfasts).

As Ndiaye stood in the back and Bolden finished up his presentation, head coach Brett Brown took the floor and pulled up a photo of Dakar.

But before we get to that, let’s backtrack.


Two weeks prior, Brown was chatting with Ndiaye about the team breakfasts, asking him about Senegal and intimating that he might have Ndiaye speak about Senegal — at least that is what Ndiaye thought.

So when Ndiaye saw the photo of Dakar projected in front of his teammates, he assumed Brown was calling him up to announce him as the presenter at the next team breakfast.

Little did Ndiaye know that the group chat that he received asking for family photos weeks prior for a Christmas card was also all part of the plan.

“It was a complete sham,” said Rich Fernando, the Sixers' director of coaching administration, who helped coordinate the surprise. “We didn't want to just call him into the office; that would be too plain, too bland. We wanted to do it in front of everyone because he means a lot to a lot of people here.”


After the photo of his hometown, there was a photo of a flight path from Philadelphia to Dakar. Then, the photo of his family appeared. Ndiaye’s mom and dad, Thereze and Henry, his brothers John and Francis, his sisters Edith, Marta, and Mary.

“When’s the last time you saw your mum?” Brown asked in front of the entire staff.

“It’s been four years,” Ndiaye said, clutching the collar of his shirt as he tried to conceal his emotion.

“We’re going to send you home, Rem," Brown said. "You’re going to go back and see your family and Merry Christmas.”

“That’s when it hit me," Ndiaye said. "I started crying, it was unbelievable. It hit me a lot when I saw the love of every single player getting up and giving me a hug and that’s when I realized, this is my second family.”

That love from his teammates is real.

Ndiaye wasn’t the only one who started to get emotional.

“To tell you the truth, it was emotional for me too,” Jimmy Butler says. “I could've cried for real. That type of stuff gets me. Family, love, and that's what this Philly thing is based around, man. It's so much more than just basketball and seeing how happy he was right then, in that moment, that’s what life is about, to make other people feel great and just to bring a smile on their face. Especially for him, who works as hard as he does every single day, and comes in and never ever complains about absolutely anything.

“He's smiling every second of every day. I wish I could do that, I wish the world could do that, because we wouldn't worry about half the things that we worry about today. If everyone would just smile and be grateful for what they have, and not what they don't have, and Remy is like, probably the biggest example that I've ever seen in my life.”

The same goes for T.J. McConnell.

“He brings the best attitude to the gym every day," McConnell said. "If you're in a bad mood and you just talk to him, he's one of those guys that can talk you right out of a bad mood. I got a little emotional seeing him break down like that because I don't know what I would do if I didn't see my family for that long, so when I saw him get emotional, it was a cool moment.”

Mike Muscala said it was especially cool for him, because a week prior Ndiaye was driving him to assistant coach Billy Lange’s house for Thanksgiving, and was talking about how much he hoped to see his family.

And for Joel Embiid, who can relate on so many levels, both in being from Africa and knowing what it’s like to not see your family for such long periods.

“I hadn't seen my parents for a long time when I left, so I can understand the excitement of him being in that situation," Embiid said, "because I know, I've been through it. I went a couple years without seeing my whole family and I know how that feels, and that’s why when these guys made it happen, I was so happy for him.”

“It changes you. Every summer, I go back to Africa and it reminds me of where I'm from and what it's about where I came from and how hard it is to get to this place.”

It will be Ndiaye's first Christmas home since 2008. It will be the first time he sees his nieces and nephews, and he’s only got one thing on his mind.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve spent Christmas with them," Ndiaye said. Just hug everybody, one by one.” 

All photos courtesy of Sixers Digital (Studio 76). 

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Which Sixer has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

Which Sixer has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

With training camp getting closer, there are plenty of topics to discuss involving the 2019-20 Sixers. Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick.

In this edition, we ask: Which Sixer has the most to gain this season?


There are a few strong candidates — including the guy Noah has below — but to me, Josh Richardson has the most to gain.

Richardson is an ascending player that just turned 26 on Sunday. He was a key cog in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation because of his defensive abilities. He’s long and versatile, a perfect combination for the Sixers’ starting unit. His defense should shine alongside the Sixers’ elite defensive pieces. He’ll be tasked with guarding ones, but it’s a challenge he should be able to handle and excel with.

During last season in Miami, Richardson took on a much bigger offensive role. While at times he shined, it was clear that he’s not meant to be a team’s No. 1 option. He won’t have to be that for the Sixers. The space he should get with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons should help immensely. Richardson also did well in dribble handoffs, something that was a staple of the Sixers’ offense with Embiid and JJ Redick. Brett Brown can explore the Richardson-Embiid two-man game with Redick’s departure to New Orleans.

One of Richardson’s most attractive qualities is his contract. The Heat have some pretty horrendous deals against their cap, but Richardson’s signing was likely their shrewdest. He’ll make $10.1 million this season and $10.8 million in 2020-21, per Spotrac. That’s a relative steal for a wing player of his capabilities. He has a player option for 2021-22 and that's where he has the most to gain. If Richardson performs well and helps the Sixers make a deep playoff run, his value should be extremely high as a 29-year-old free agent.


As far as contracts are concerned, there aren’t many obvious candidates for players with the most to gain. Backup point guards Raul Neto and Trey Burke, big man Kyle O’Quinn and young players Furkan Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden might qualify on the basis of not having any guarantees beyond this season, but I’m not going with any of those players.

I think Tobias Harris has the most to gain for the Sixers this season, even if he did sign a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. This isn’t about the money, though. 

With Jimmy Butler gone, Harris will now likely be looked to as the Sixers’ primary perimeter scoring option. He won’t need to carry the entire offensive load — Ben Simmons is dangerous in transition and improving in the post, Joel Embiid is dominant down low, Al Horford can do a little bit of everything and Josh Richardson averaged 16.6 points per game last year. But Harris now has the go-ahead to be the best version of himself offensively.

“I just wanted to adapt,” he said on July 12 about his role after joining the Sixers last season. “Not to be complaining about comfort or whatnot. I just wanted to be that guy who puts everything to the side and it’s about winning. Was that hard for me? Not hard for me with who I am, but for my own game, it was hard.”

Before joining the Sixers, Harris was among the top 20 percent of the league as a pick-and-roll ball handler in points per possession for four straight seasons, per NBA.com/Stats. I expect the Sixers to try to cater toward Harris’ strengths more this year. I also think it’s logical to predict Harris will shoot closer to his 42.6 percent mark from three-point range over 87 games with the Clippers than the 32.6 percent he shot from long range with the Sixers.

There’s no money to be gained for Harris, but a first All-Star appearance would be meaningful. It’s a very realistic possibility. 

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Sixers to host Blue X White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware

Sixers to host Blue X White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware

In what’s become a tradition, the Sixers will host their annual Blue X White Scrimmage on Oct. 5.

Your first chance to see the new-look squad will come at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware, home of the team’s G-League affiliate, the Blue Coats.

In years past, it’s also been an opportunity for the fans to see the players in a more laid-back setting. The players that have been here have enjoyed participating.

They’re great. Our players get it,” team president Chris Heck said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Our players understand how important Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley is to the 76ers and they’re excited to get the season started. We open training camp on Oct. 1, and this will be the first chance for anyone in the area to see our players play in what we think will be a very exciting and winning season for the 76ers.

There are an awful lot of new players to see, including two-fifths of the starting lineup with Al Horford and Josh Richardson coming on board. It will also be the fans' first chance to see rookie first-round pick Matisse Thybulle and veteran pickups Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke and Raul Neto live as Sixers.

Part of the reason for the move to Delaware is to accommodate the demand for tickets. The 161,000-square-foot-complex held its first Blue Coats game on Jan. 23, and has also held Cardi B and O.A.R. concerts, plus large-scale corporate events and local high school graduations, in addition to youth camps and weekly academies for basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball.

As the team has continued to improve, the need for more space has heightened.

It has grown in the sense where it’s harder and harder to provide as many seats to the demand that’s out there,” Heck said. “It was really important for us to move it down to Delaware this year because our fan base in the first state is so strong and so close to Philadelphia as well. This is the perfect opportunity to re-launch the Fieldhouse, by bringing Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and the likes of all our team, including Brett Brown, back down to Delaware to launch our season.

The event is definitely fan- and family-focused. It will have an entire fan zone that will feature inflatable games, face painters, balloon artists and additional carnival games. Fans can also participate in an NBA-style combine. They can also win prizes from Chick-fil-A and TruMark Financial, receive free haircuts for their kids by Maestro’s Classic and register their children ages 4 to 14 for the 76ers Kids Club, presented by Five Below.

The Fieldhouse features indoor and outdoor, multi-purpose artificial turf fields, Titus Strength and Condition Center and Nemours Center for Sports Medicine.

If you’re looking to score tickets, you must sign up for the SixthMan Fan newsletter. More information on how to secure tickets will be communicated through the SixthMan Fan newsletter in the coming days. Both Sixers’ and Blue Coats’ season ticket members will receive access to a presale featuring a limited amount of free tickets. 

The Sixers are expecting a game-like atmosphere.

I think it will be exactly what it’s like during any of our games and any time our players are a part of the community — which will be loud and fun and energized and positive,” Heck said. “That’s why I think this city and the Delaware Valley as a whole has embraced the 76ers so much over the last several years. We are a team that represents the community and that’s fun.

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