When you talk to Josh Richardson, it almost feels like he’s lived in Philadelphia for years, and it’s not just because he’s already embraced cheesesteaks and Philly sports fans — though it certainly helps. His face actually lights up when talking about how his hard-nosed defensive style of play is the perfect fit in this town.
“It’s like slipping into a pair of shoes that’s my exact size," Richardson said in an interview Friday. "It’s like a perfect fit. Philly is tough and gritty, I play tough and gritty. Philly likes defense, I like defense.”
And both Richardson and the Sixers are prepared to take a step up in their journey.
“I have high expectations for this next year and I hope we can meet those," he said.
Richardson’s experiences playing against the Sixers a member of the Miami Heat for the past four years make him even more confident about the potential of this team.
“Once we gel, I think we are going to be terrifying, honestly," he said.
He was up close and personal with Ben Simmons, who guarded him in the playoff series between the Sixers and Heat in 2018.
“On the defensive end, Ben guarded me in the playoffs, and buckets were not very easy," Richardson said. "I know what he can do. Jo is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and he’s vocal, he plays. He’s where he’s supposed to be at all times.
“Al (Horford) is just super solid, doesn’t make mistakes and Tobias (Harris) is a solid defender on the wing. Mike (Scott) coming off the bench, James (Ennis III) and those guys coming in. It’s like just waves, and I think we can overwhelm people with that.”
Speaking of Harris, it certainly helps that he a connection with Richardson that dates back to their University of Tennessee roots.
In 2011, Harris left UT for the NBA Draft around the same time Richardson joined the Volunteers program, but since the NBA was in a lockout, Harris went back to Tennessee. It was there that Harris took notice of the amount of work Richardson put in.
“I remember seeing him in the gym and seeing how hungry he was," Harris said. "He wasn’t a five-star recruit or whatnot but he was always in there working and one of the coaches came to me like, ‘That kid Josh Richardson is going to be a pro,'” Harris said.
Harris actually took Richardson and one of his friends out to dinner.
“I was 17 years old, and just left home and so I didn’t really know anything,” Richardson remembered. “He took me out to dinner and talked to me about how to approach basketball, how to approach college, handle myself in life and I always appreciated that.”
“That’s why he’s in the NBA now,” Harris joked.
Plenty more dinners in the future for these two.
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