It sounds rather simple, but it’s not such a straightforward proclamation in the current circumstances: Tobias Harris is ready to play.
Harris joined Ernie Johnson on Wednesday night as part of the “NBA Together” series on the NBA’s Twitter account. With a coalition of players led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley expressing concerns about the league’s plan to restart the season at Disney World in late July potentially detracting from advocacy for racial justice, Harris discussed his personal attitude.
I’ve heard everybody’s opinions and viewpoints, and none of them are wrong,” he said. “If somebody feels this way, that’s how they feel. Nobody should be able to take that from them. In this period of time, with everything that’s going on — from the deaths to the police brutality to the inequality — it’s all affecting people, and especially African Americans, mentally in a way where you can’t understand unless you’re that person.
“For me and my standpoint, I believe that if we are suited up to play, I’ll be ready to play. If my guys and my team are ready to play, I truly believe we have a chance to win a championship — I’m with my guys and I’m ready. … If the group as a collective decides it’s the best decision, I’m ready to go with it.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, Harris has protested in Philadelphia, written an essay in the Players’ Tribune about his perspective on racism and police brutality in America and spotlighted various issues on his social media accounts. He agreed with Johnson’s opinion that participating in the NBA’s restart could provide heightened visibility.
“Us as a collective group of NBA players, it is an opportunity on a national stage, where mostly everybody is going to be watching, to take advantage of that viewpoint,” he said. “And to be honest, even the time right now is an opportunity. We’re not playing right now but a lot of guys have been able to speak up and voice their opinion, and really be able to use their platforms to create a change. But now we have to take the next step and really determine what it is we want to truly bring about from this.
“No. 1, it’s just justice to be served. Police brutality is for sure something that needs to be taken really seriously in the state that we’re in. And truly equality of understanding. People need to be able to listen to others and understand without first trying to throw out their opinion. So I believe there are a lot of things that need to be altered, especially during this time.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Johnson, Harris also touched on his relationship with his father and agent, Torrel Harris, being mentored by Hall of Famer George Gervin, and his new sleep schedule. Kawhi Leonard’s series-clinching, perpetually bouncing shot in Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals came up, too.
“It’s funny, early in the pandemic, JJ Redick texted me out of nowhere,” Harris said. “He said, ‘You know Kawhi traveled?’ … So then I watched it and I was like, ‘He definitely did travel when he caught the ball.’”
Looking ahead to Disney World, Harris said he’d reviewed extensive materials sent by the league to players, but not in great depth. He did, however, notice the Sixers and Mavs will both be staying at the Grand Floridian hotel.
“I know Boban (Marjanovic) will be trying to communicate with me and trying to link up,” he said of his good friend and former teammate. “I’m going to have security make sure he’s not able to talk to me.”
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