76ers

From Villanova legend to NBA hopeful, Josh Hart 'demands perfection' from himself

From Villanova legend to NBA hopeful, Josh Hart 'demands perfection' from himself

CAMDEN, N.J. — There are questions that have come up frequently during the Sixers' pre-draft workouts:

When are the top picks coming to Camden?

Is Josh Hart working out?

The Villanova standout donned a Sixers jersey and took the court with former teammates Darryl Reynolds and Dylan Ennis with head coach Jay Wright watching from the sidelines on Thursday (see story)

Hart worked out for the Sixers last year before deciding to play his senior year at Villanova and defend the Wildcats' NCAA championship. 

"Everything about the NBA went out the window," Hart said of his return to school. "I knew if I decided to go back to 'Nova to have to be all in on 'Nova. ... The NBA never crawled into my mind until the end of the year."

Hart increased his scoring production to 18.7 points and 40.4 percent three-point shooting, along with 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Hart left Villanova as the only player in school history with more than 1,900 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals.

Hart actually has been adjusting his shot since the end of the season. He wasn't thrilled with how they went down in the workout but hopes the Sixers noticed the alterations he has made. 

"I didn't shoot the ball too well today," Hart said. "That comes with the territory. Changing the shot, you go through growing pains and today was a little bit of a growing pain. Even if you miss shots, it shows my jumpshot is different. It's more fluent, smoother."

The Sixers are well aware of Hart's game beyond a workout. They have had the opportunity to get a close look at him over the last four years and also watched him at a pro day. 

"He was very impressive," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said last week. "But it was a one-on-none workout, so we're not going to get a lot out of that other than the fact that he had tremendous stamina throughout. I will say this, he didn't have a lot of breaks in the course of the workout. He's a talent. He's going to be a solid pro for somebody. We've seen a lot of video, we've seen a lot of live impressions. He's going to be a nice NBA player."

Hart, a projected second-round pick, also worked out with Pacers, Nets, Magic, Jazz, Suns, Thunder, Lakers and Trail Blazers before the Sixers. He still has the Hawks, Spurs and Suns left on his schedule. 

His road to NBA consideration has been a long one from his high school days when he doesn't think "anyone knew who I was" heading into college.

"What other people say can only fuel you so much," Hart said. "It has to come from you. If it doesn't, you won't be successful. ... I'm my biggest critic. I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

Hart plans to watch the draft locally at Two Liberty Place in Philadelphia. He expects to feel more anxious than nervous, pointing out this is the first time he does not know where he will be playing basketball next.

"To be the number one pick, I think that's probably what I'm hoping for," Hart joked of his draft night expectations. "I wish I knew where I was going. The goal is to get your name called." 

Sixers' Elton Brand, Matisse Thybulle and Tobias Harris protest in Philadelphia, encourage activism

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Sixers' Elton Brand, Matisse Thybulle and Tobias Harris protest in Philadelphia, encourage activism

Philadelphians on Saturday flooded the streets in protest of racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd last week. The sheer volume of the protesters was powerful.

Among those in attendance were Sixers forward Tobias Harris, who recently penned a strong personal essay on acknowledging and addressing systems of racism, rookie Mattise Thybulle, and general manager Elton Brand. 

The Sixers shared several photos and video from the protest on social media. Thybulle and Brand wore shirts with the words “I can’t breathe!,” which Floyd said as police officer George Chauvin was kneeling on his neck, and which Eric Garner said in 2014 as he was being choked by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. 

Harris’ shirt had the face of civil rights leader Malcolm X on it and the phrases “No sell out!” and “By any means necessary!” Thybulle held up signs that said, “Vote” and “We all have a voice — use it.”

“It’s always good to be around this many great people who are striving for unity and striving for people to have equality,” Harris said.

Raptors point guard and Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry walked alongside Harris and Thybulle. 

The Sixers organization standing behind those protesting and actively seeking to amplify their voices is significant. The team on Saturday also retweeted a post by Glenn Robinson III with information about a fundraising campaign that his non-profit organization, Angels Are Real Indeed (ARI), is launching.

ARI, which seeks to “help fathers become better in fatherhood, and help families without one,” will fundraise in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Robinson announced. 

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Why is there a basketball hoop traveling through Philadelphia during protests?

Why is there a basketball hoop traveling through Philadelphia during protests?

Over the last week, you’ve likely seen, read about, participated in or experienced in some way protests against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

You might also have noticed a basketball hoop rolling around Philadelphia. 

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Marc Farzetta recently talked with Philadelphia native Stephania Ergemlidze, who’s responsible for the traveling games of 1-on-1.

“Basketball is the one way I know how to spread love and I know how to bring people together,” Ergemlidze told Farzetta, “so it was a no-brainer.”

Ergemlidze said that she was cognizant of not wanting to detract or warp the messages of protestors. Philadelphians gathered on Saturday for the seventh straight day in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“That was something I was very, very nervous about,” she said. “What way can I do it where I’m not actually distracting from the protests? My goal was not to distract from the protests. My goal is to amplify it and show the positive sides of things, because right now I feel like they’re sharing a lot of negatives, like rioting and looting, but there’s also a lot of peaceful protesting going on.”

You can watch Ergemlidze’s interview with Farzetta in the video above. 

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