In Camden on Friday Morning, the Philadelphia 76ers introduced four new faces and two returning players to the media for an initial press conference to discuss joining the team. Raul Neto formerly of the Utah Jazz, Kyle O’Quinn formerly of the Indiana Pacers, Al Horford formerly of the Boston Celtics, and Josh Richardson formerly of the Miami Heat join the Sixers. While James Ennis and Tobias Harris return on new deals. Mike Scott is also returning on a new deal but was not at the press conference.
Tobias Harris will change his jersey from #33 to #12 this upcoming season to honor his friend and teammate Morgan Childs, who passed away from leukemia. Harris wore #12 at the University of Tennessee, as well as when he was with the Orlando Magic. Horford, Ennis, and Richardson will retain their respective #42, #11, and #0. While O’Quinn will wear #9 and Raul Neto will don #19.
Elton Brand started things off and he had a message to the fans to begin:
“The best fans in the NBA. I understand your passion. I understand your commitment. Your energy. And I know what your expectations are, so we’re doing everything we can to bring another championship to the city of Philadelphia. So believe that. That’s our goal, and this group up here is putting us in place to reach that goal”.
Brand then followed up with breakdowns of each acquisition. First was new big man Al Horford, In his introduction Elton confirms Al will start at Power Forward as well as backup at Center which was widely expected:
“Al Horford—proven leader, proven winner, playoffs every single year. I know what he brings to the table, not only starting with Joel [Embiid], but also being able to spell Joel at the five. He’s very important for us. So he’s helping to push us much closer to our goal of winning the championship”
Next on the list was returning fan favorite Mike Scott who returned on a two year deal on the first day of free agency. James Ennis followed suit. Ennis took a pay cut in a incredible gesture to the city and fans to show he is committed and believes they can indeed win a championship:
“Mike Scott—I’m sure ‘The Hive’ is happy he’s back—tough, hard-nosed player, not afraid of the moment, not afraid to hit big shots. James Ennis—thanks for coming back. We know you had many opportunities for more money, but you wanted to come back with us and compete for a championship, so you should be applauded and we appreciate that.”
Tobias Harris was the first player to talk to the media, in which he discussed being the man to go to in clutch situations now and how he plans on handling that:
“Obviously, I’ll be more with the ball in my hands in different situations and I’m ready for that. I’ve been working out all summer to get ready for that position, too, and just to help our team grow and get further than we were last year and contend for a championship.”
Tobias then continued on to discuss the one thing on everyone’s mind, an NBA Finals trophy:
“I mean, that’s the only thing on my mind. And obviously this thing is going to take time with chemistry for us as a group, but this is going to be a team that loves to play with one another on the floor.”
Al Horford was next to talk, first of the new signings. Al signed a 4 year contract after several years in Boston and was known around the league for being one of very few to contain and shut down Joel Embiid due to his footwork. Below he discussed all the signings that happened soon after he agreed to terms with Philly:
“Every time I kept looking at and seeing the players that we were signing, I kept getting more excited. We got Kyle, I was like, ‘Yes.’ I saw that Josh came through, Ennis re-signed, saw that Neto got here. We’ve got a good group here and that really got me excited—got me even more excited. I felt like we were in a good place and I feel really good about our future.”
Next, Horford discussed the main thing that fans are excited for this season, the potential elite level team defense that can be displayed at anytime with the depth they have:
“As a group, we’re hanging our hat on the defensive end, getting out in transition, sharing the ball and trying to win that championship. That’s our mindset.”
Backup center Kyle O’Quinn talked about that famous Philadelphia fan mindset and how he feels about it and how it inspires him to be better:
“You know, this is one of those places you might want to take the first bus if you usually take the second bus, you want to get up early, you want to get yourself going. Because if not, they have the attitude of hitting you in the mouth early and really not stopping, and the fans kind of, you know, step on you if you’re down.”
Josh Richardson was next to speak. Acquired as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, Josh Richardson crossed paths with Tobias Harris while at Tennessee and Josh tells how Harris was a very key piece when he first arrived on campus:
“Tobias was actually leaving Tennessee when I got there. So myself and another freshman who was there—Tobias actually took us out to dinner. I was 17 years old, just left home, so I didn’t really know anything. And he took me out to dinner and just kind of talked to me about how to approach basketball, how to approach college, how to handle myself in life. And I always appreciated that.”
Lastly, owner Josh Harris took the stage to say some final words and discuss what he feels is the mindset going into the future:
“Look, I think this group—if it gels, and it will gel—is capable of bringing a championship to Philly. I mean, I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
Overall, this press conference helped culminate a very successful offseason by the organization. They put the pieces in place to make this season a special one. The dynasty’s and powerhouses of yesterday have fallen and new ones are popping up all over. Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, and Brooklyn are just a few of the new look teams as for the first time in several years there is no clear favorite. If there was a time to jump to the top and claim the title for the city of brotherly love, it is now.