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T.J. McConnell Q&A: Inspiration for dance moves, love for Philly fans and more

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Paul Hudrick

T.J. McConnell Q&A: Inspiration for dance moves, love for Philly fans and more

When I asked for fans to send in their questions for T.J. McConnell, they came pouring in! 

Hope you enjoy our fun Q&A.

SW: What do you call your pregame dance where you look like you’re dipping both hands in cookie jars? 

T.J.: I call it the … well, I don't have a name for it, but Richaun (Holmes) started it with the dancers that come out and we're just imitating it and obviously I don't have a lot of rhythm so it probably looks like I'm putting my hands in cookie jars, but that's not what I'm going for.

SW: So what are you going for? 
T.J.: 
I think whatever the dancers are trying to do, and I'm not doing it very well.

SW: What music do you like to listen to on game day?
T.J.: 
So, I'm actually not a big player where before games I will put on my headphones and get into a zone. I've never done that.

SW: What do you do?
T.J.: 
I'm just relaxing. After I'm on the court, I go have a meal back there and I talk to a lot of people. I text friends. Text my wife, call her, my family. But since Jimmy (Butler) has gotten here, he's really put me onto country, and that's what I listen to when I'm home or in the car, so kudos to Jimmy for helping me out with that.

SW: Since you’re a Pennsylvania native, do you eat scrapple?
T.J.: 
Eat WHAT?

SW: Scrapple.
T.J.: 
I have never heard of that in my entire life. 

SW: Me either. I had to look it up after a fan asked, it's basically scraps of meat with cornmeal that's shaped into loaves for slicing and frying, and is apparently tied with Eastern Pennsylvania ...
T.J.: 
That sounds foul. 

SW: How do you keep your hair so immaculate under such extreme circumstances?

(
Sidenote: Remember when Dario Saric said it was like plastic?)

T.J.: I don't really agree with that statement, because I would say, my second year in the NBA was better because I would put gel in it, and then hairspray it, but then I started breaking out in acne and you just can't keep getting acne at 24, 25. 

So now, I don’t know, I guess water and a great comb. 

SW: How do you feel about the change in the city over the past few years, and not just with the Sixers, but with the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers?
T.J.: 
In professional sports, you are obviously about winning, but when your front office as a whole, the Phillies, the Flyers, the Eagles, us, when you're about winning and you make moves even more, like each organization has to take it to the next level, its special, and this city deserves it. The Eagles winning the Super Bowl last year, us making that jump to the second round of the playoffs when we haven't been there in awhile, the Phillies going out and getting Bryce Harper, and the Flyers as well, it's just an exciting time to be in Philly and I say this all the time, the fans deserve a winning product and I'm glad they get to see that.

SW: Who was your favorite player growing up?
T.J.: 
I loved Steve Nash, watched him all the time and I've gotten to know him a little bit from being on the Sixers. We've gone out to LA to work out with him, so it's really been like a dream come true. 

SW: Most impactful thing you’ve learned from him?
T.J.: 
He gave me so much information that one thing was not more important than the other. It all was just so important. The thing I learned from him and the reason I think that he was as great as he was, was just his attention to detail and the way he takes care of his body and his movements on the floor to gain an advantage and you kind of see that and you're like OK now I know why this guy won back-to-back MVPs.

SW: All-time favorite or least-favorite, depending on how you look at it, players to defend?
T.J.: 
Ironically, they both play or played on the Celtics. My rookie year, and I haven't had to defend him since my second year, I think, was Isaiah Thomas. He just literally abused me every time we played. And I'd like to consider myself a decent defender where I have enough pride where somebody is not going to abuse me everytime, I'll kind of figure something out, but he did. And Kyrie (Irving), his handle is just, you can't even see where the ball is at half the time, it's on a string. Those two guys have been incredibly difficult, but I mean, as a point guard in the NBA, I don't think you really have a night off guarding anyone. They are all really difficult.

When you're guarding guys like Steph (Curry) and Kyrie and Dame (Lillard), and all the great point guards it's like, you're so locked in, in trying to stop them, they're so good, you're not going to shut anyone down.

SW: How do you feel about the “White Iverson” nickname?

T.J.: I think it's funny. Obviously it's a joke, because that guy was one of the greats, one of the best to do it at his size and will obviously be a legend in Philadelphia forever.

SW: But I think it’s also about what you represent to Philly fans …
T.J.: 
I mean there are similarities, like obviously his talent is just like another galaxy better than mine, and that's not putting me down, but how passionate he was about the game, I am. I think the same thing. His love for Philadelphia. In that regard, I think me and him are similar. I love playing here, I love playing in front of these fans and with my teammates and playing with the heart that I do and he did every night.

SW: Do you live in Sixers sweats?
T.J.: 
Oh yeah, I hate dressing up, but there are times when I'm like, I'm going to try to impress myself because I never really dress up, but other than that I love wearing sweats. 

Unless it’s when he wear his wedding suit to his exit interview:

Obviously you've got to take care of your body a little bit, but at that age I wasn't exactly worrying about my diet. I feel like I've always had a lot of heart, and I feel like having that and a mindset to never give up and never quit will take you a long way.

SW: Are you saving slapping the hardwood for the playoffs?
T.J.: 
Umm, I don't know. When I do stuff like that, I tend to blackout in those situations, so we'll see if we go on a big run and the fans are really into it, then I will. 

SW: How do you like your cheesesteak?
T.J.: 
Regular cheeseteak. I'm a bit weird because I try to stay away from dairy as much as I can, so I don't put cheese on it, which is like really weird. Onions, mushrooms, and I'll mix like hot sauce and ketchup together and make this weird … almost like a Siracha. Don't knock it ‘till you try it.

SW: Something you’re afraid of?
T.J.: 
I hate snakes. Ben's Instagram post the other day. He had a snake in his pocket and that's just not for me.

I know they are a part of the ecosystem, they probably eat stuff that helps us out, but I think they are disgusting animals. Disgusting.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Joel Embiid is out, but at least we have Shake Milton

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Sixers Talk podcast: Joel Embiid is out, but at least we have Shake Milton

On this edition of Sixers Talk, Paul Hudrick and Tyrone Johnson discuss the latest on Joel Embiid's injury, Tobias Harris and Shake Milton picking up the slack without Embiid and Ben Simmons, and much more.

• Reacting to the latest on Joel Embiid's shoulder injury (1:03)

• Tobias Harris and Al Horford playing better (3:24)

• Shake Milton giving the Sixers a much-needed boost (10:37)

• Glenn Robinson III claiming to not understand his role (16:14)

• Locker room issues? (23:33)

• The brutal upcoming road trip (29:01)

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More on the Sixers

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) expected to be re-evaluated in approximately 1 week

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) expected to be re-evaluated in approximately 1 week

Updated: 10:05 p.m.

According to a Sixers spokesperson Thursday night, testing on Joel Embiid’s left shoulder confirmed a left shoulder sprain and showed no significant structural damage. Embiid’s progress will be symptom-based and he is expected to be re-evaluated in approximately one week, the spokesperson said. 

Embiid sustained the injury in the first quarter Wednesday night against the Cavaliers on a collision with Ante Zizic. He missed two free throws after the play, appearing to be in significant pain, before Furkan Korkmaz took a foul so Embiid could exit the game. Though Embiid briefly returned to the bench in the second quarter, he left after talking to head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson and had a conversation with GM Elton Brand in the tunnel on his way back to the locker room.

Brett Brown said he was relieved to hear that Embiid’s injury was not more severe. 

“The fact that there is no structural damage we all hear loudly, and maybe it’s as simple as that in some ways,” he said. “Of course. And it’s as much from the personal standpoint as it is [as a] selfish coach. He’s looking forward to this run home, the final third, the responsibility. No [Ben Simmons], for how long we’ll all figure out in time. To learn that from his perspective, and again, from the team’s perspective, that is exciting news.”

The Sixers, who improved to 28-2 at home with a win Thursday over the Knicks, are also without Simmons, who has nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.

Al Horford started at center Thursday and had his best game since the All-Star break, posting 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Though Norvel Pelle was available after missing the past two games with an upper respiratory illness, Brown went with Kyle O’Quinn as his backup center. 

The team is set to travel West for a four-game road trip that begins Sunday and features games against the Lakers and Clippers. At 9-21 away from Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers have the worst record of any team currently in playoff position. 

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