For a tense 30 seconds Friday night, it felt like Tobias Harris was on the witness stand. A reporter wanted details on a players-only meeting that had, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, occurred Wednesday.
“We didn’t have no meeting,” Harris said.
The Sixers didn’t hold a players-only meeting?
“No, we just had a dialogue,” Harris responded.
Seated next to Harris, Ben Simmons’ straight face started to break.
Harris faced two more questions on the topic, both of which he gave short answers.
The Sixers came away from the dialogue with “positive vibes,” he said.
As for the substance of the meeting, Harris sounded like a man who knew the law to a tee as it pertained to what he was obligated to divulge.
“That’s personal information,” Harris said, prompting Simmons and the entire courtroom — crew of media members, rather — to burst into laughter.
A players-only meeting is certainly a notable development, and one can understand Harris’ steadfast refusal to give away much information.
Josh Richardson had the correct instinct that his teammates wouldn’t be very forthcoming about the meeting. He’d initiated the “dialogue,” and returned to play in Friday’s 119-107 win over the Grizzlies after missing the past six games with a left hamstring strain.
“If nobody else said the focus (of the meeting), I’m not going to be the guy to say it,” he said, smiling. “We sat down, we talked some stuff out. I think it was good for us to get those things out there.”
However, Richardson was more willing than Harris to expand.
“Everybody has a different role on the team,” he said. “Stepping up in the vocal leadership role might be my thing. We’re all still kind of figuring it out.”
In his first year as a Sixer, Richardson has already called out issues with effort and accountability in public. The notion that he’d be the right person to address similar concerns in private is unsurprising.
The Sixers are 9-19 on the road and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They cannot reasonably act as if everything is fine, or afford to do so.
“That’s how it has to be for us to be the best team that we can be,” Richardson said. “I know it’s not comfortable. You know sometimes that it’s not going to be comfortable, but I think once we get past that threshold of just wanting to be in a comfortable range, I think we’ll step to another level.”
Al Horford was impressed with how Richardson took charge.
“It's a sign of growth from him,” he said. “We have people ... we care. We want to win. We want to do things the right way. And Josh took great initiative. Our group, we're all in this together and we're just trying to figure it out."
Richardson was limited to 15 minutes Friday and came off the bench. Brett Brown was unsure how many minutes he’d be allowed to play Richardson on Sunday vs. the Bulls and didn't know whether or not the fifth-year guard would start.
Meanwhile, Brown also wouldn’t spill information on the meeting’s contents, though he claimed to have a good excuse.
“… Stuff that goes on behind coaches' doors and in locker rooms, I wish them well,” he said. “All I care about is the things I saw on the locker room and on the court, and I see a team that’s very committed to trying to fix this and stay together. And so my answer is what I just said — a need-to-know basis. They’ll figure out if I need to know it. If I don’t hear anything, I don’t care.”
Even if Brown had no information to relay, it’s not difficult to surmise the gist of the meeting and identify its leader — despite Harris’ best efforts.
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