76ers

Tobias Harris opens up about mental health and what he does to stay balanced

Tobias Harris opens up about mental health and what he does to stay balanced

The first time Tobias Harris practiced yoga at a studio in Long Island, New York, he almost fainted. Granted, it was Bikram yoga, a practice in which the room is usually heated to a temperature of 95-108 degrees with a humidity of 40 percent.

“It was recommended to me through a lot of people because of flexibility and things that would further help me,” Harris recalled. “But then, when I got in there and realized how hot it was and then the heat combined with the movements, I almost passed out.”

Thankfully, Harris made it through his first class without losing consciousness, and the practice has stuck with him ever since.

“When I first started yoga, I was looking to do it more for the workout aspect of it, and now I kind of do it more for the meditation experience and just the soothing and calming experience, mixed with being able to put your muscles and stretch in different positions," Harris said. "It puts me in a spot where I can use my breath and hone in and focus on my own personal inner being.”

For Harris, yoga is one of the many aspects that contribute to his overall well-being — a balance of “mind, body, soul and making sure that's all on a healthy level.” Something he is very passionate about.

So passionate, in fact, that Harris helped lead a small yoga class at Y7 Studios in New York on Sunday, as part of the inaugural Tobias Harris Healthy Lifestyle Conference, a two-day event focused on health and wellness.

“Everything from meditation to working out, to being financially on top of your business, things that for my own self-awareness, I embody in my own walk of life and my profession,” Harris said about the conference.

“Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Every day I wake up and go work out, and it's not because I have to do it, it's because it's good for my own well-being as a person to be able to get up and move every day.”

Harris also appreciates how the attitude toward mental health, especially in men’s professional sports, is shifting.

“It's a more open dialogue type of feel," Harris said. "I think more males are feeling more comfortable to say it's OK to go and talk to somebody.”

For Harris, talking to a therapist has been a personal shift for him, too.

“My girlfriend is the first person who told me to go talk to somebody and see how it goes, and my response back was like, ‘I don't need to go talk to anybody,’" Harris said. "But until you actually try it and do it, then the stigma around it goes away … and you go, ‘Actually, that was really helpful for me.’ I think I appreciate how open of a field it is now, and I think it’s important for a lot of people.” 

Especially in the age of social media.

“I think [social media] has a bigger impact [on mental health] than people may realize," Harris said. "Sometimes feeding into the negativity or the positivity also can affect your mental state, where you may get too high or too low in different settings.”

And add to that, injuries, playing time and other moments of adversity that affect a player’s mental health.

“I think every NBA player has been there, maybe every pro athlete has been there,” Harris said.

"That's why I know from my own personal self, always keep a base of who you are and things you can keep on a daily basis to help your own self and to help you be the best you, every single day.”

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Ben Simmons responds to potentially playing a different role for Sixers

Ben Simmons responds to potentially playing a different role for Sixers

Ben Simmons is exceptionally versatile, and he does not have a difficult time describing the multitude of things he can do well on a basketball court besides shoot. 

“I’m a basketball player at the end of the day,” he said in a video conference call Tuesday. “You know me, you put me on the floor, I’ll make anything happen, whether it’s plays, buckets, stops. I’ll guard anybody 1 through 5, I’ll run the floor, I can get to the rim, I can score the ball and I make plays happen. 

“So wherever you put me — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 — it’s going to happen. I don’t really look at it as a title or position. That’s mainly for you guys to put down in your articles.” 

Reporters’ articles on Monday were obligated to mention that Brett Brown said he has been using Simmons exclusively as a power forward in the Sixers’ practices at Disney World, and that he’s been employing Shake Milton as the team’s starting point. Simmons did not seem worried about whether that shift meant he’d now have the ball in his hands less often. 

“It’s basketball, you’ve gotta get the ball,” he said.

Fair enough. 

In the eight games Milton and Simmons started together between Jan. 25 and Feb. 9, the two-time All-Star was often stationed as a playmaker at the elbow and still had many chances to be the hub of the offense, like on the play below vs. the Lakers. Milton dished the ball off to Simmons and then set a cross screen to free Tobias Harris, who Simmons hit for an open three. 

Simmons averaged 20.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists during that stretch, and the Sixers went 4-4. He may not be as commanding an all-around presence as his star teammate, but Milton is a multi-dimensional offensive player, one Simmons feels complements him effectively. 

“He plays really well,” Simmons said of Milton. “He can shoot the ball, he has a high IQ, he can get to the rim, he can finish. He’s just somebody you can play with, and you can say something to him and he’ll put it into play and try it out. And that’s what you need in somebody like Shake or players like that. He’s developing still and he’s come a long way since the first day I’ve seen him play. He’s only getting better.”

If the Sixers ultimately decide to start the never-used lineup of Milton, Josh Richardson, Harris, Simmons and Joel Embiid — Brown emphasized again Tuesday that it’s still “incredibly early” in this second training camp of sorts — one imagines we’ll see less of Simmons as a middle pick-and-roll ball handler and more of him as a screener. Ideally, that would mean fewer possessions where the defense sags off and Simmons’ weakness as a shooter hurts the team.

It also should mean greater opportunity for Simmons to grow pick-and-roll partnerships with Milton and Richardson.

Given how the Sixers had fallen short of their expectations before the NBA’s hiatus, Simmons is open to experimentation. He just doesn't care about the labels.

You've just gotta work with different things,” he said. “You’ve gotta try different things out, see if they work. We’re not at a stage where we can be comfortable yet. I’m still trying to figure it out myself ... what feels comfortable, what’s right for this team and how we’re gonna win. 

“If it’s this way, then I’m all for it. I’ve been having fun in that position — whatever you guys say, the four — whatever it is. But at the end of the day, when you see me I’m on the floor, I’m making plays.

As for who will handle the ball late in close playoff games, Brown has not yet settled on an answer. 

“He does have the ball at times,” Brown said of Simmons. “I have played him as a four-man. And so I suspect that will continue where I use him in many ways, and I think that when it gets a little bit closer than four days into practice, I’ll probably be able to give you more detail. 

“But I think about it all the time and we still have a lot of things as it relates to just to the preseason games, the eight regular-season games — the runway is long. We have enough time to establish a lot of these things that might remain a little uncertain or flexible.”

With Simmons’ unique skill set, the ultimate correct answer might not be a simple or conventional one. 

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2 NBA players tested positive for COVID-19 in Orlando; Richaun Holmes breaches 'bubble'

2 NBA players tested positive for COVID-19 in Orlando; Richaun Holmes breaches 'bubble'

Former Sixer Richaun Holmes breached the NBA’s health and safety regulations by picking up a food delivery, he said Monday afternoon. 

Holmes will now have to quarantine for eight additional days. 

Earlier Monday, ESPN reported that the Rockets’ Bruno Caboclo unintentionally broke quarantine. 

Shortly after Holmes released his statement, the NBA and NBPA announced that two players of the 322 tested in Orlando since July 7 were positive for the coronavirus. Those players never cleared quarantine, according to the joint statement. 

All-Star Rockets guard Russell Westbrook announced Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 before Houston’s departure and is quarantined. New Sixer Ryan Broekhoff said Sunday he didn’t travel with the Sixers to Orlando so that he could focus on his family after his wife tested positive.

Joel Embiid was skeptical last week that all players would follow the league’s protocols.

“Some guys like to go out and some guys like to do stuff, (there are) some guys that like adventure,” he said. “So that’s the way I’m thinking. I know myself. I know I’m not going to put everybody else at risk, but the question is, is everybody else going to do the same? And just being around this business, I surely don’t think so.”

A second-round pick of the Sixers in 2015, Holmes played the first three seasons of his career in Philadelphia as an athletic, high-energy backup big man. He’s had the best season of his career with the Kings, posting 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this year. 

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