The end of the summer is near, and the 76ers are battling for a title.
It’s just not a battle being fought on real-life hardwoods.
In June, 76ers Gaming Club took home a $100,000 cash prize for winning THE TURN, an in-season NBA 2K League 5v5 tournament. Shooting guard Enrique “630” Xavier Barraza averaged 22.5 points and 4.5 assists en route to winning tournament MVP. Point guard Andre “Dre” Marshall contributed 21.5 points and 8 assists.
General manager and head coach Jeff Terrell recognizes how unique it is to have such an explosive backcourt. “Last year, going into the draft, 630 was somebody that was definitely on my radar,” Terrell told The Painted Lines on Thursday.
“He went before our pick, but he was somebody that wanted to come to Philly. I knew about it prior to the draft last year. And then, just being able to pair those two in the same backcourt on the same team is special. It’s like you got an all-star backcourt, to be honest with you. You got MVP from last year, Rookie of the Year. And then this year, Dre’s an MVP finalist. So, their talent is special in the way that they work together on court and off court is something that has really stood out to me.”
630, who also goes by “Sav”, is the second star guard, albeit in a different capacity of basketball, to have his eyes on Philadelphia in the last 18 months. “Just the winning culture, the organization, as a whole, and, obviously, Jeff,” he said of what drew him to Philly.
“Jeff is a very animated coach and I played basketball my whole life. So, I kind of always wanted that type of coach to be in the background, just yelling like motivation and giving us the hype energy and I felt like I was really missing that in the league. So, that really drew me to the 76ers.”
630 was drafted by Pacers Gaming with the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA 2K League draft. He won Rookie of the Year and MVP, leading the Pacers to the league’s hierarchy in his first campaign. But, they were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. After starting this season 1-4, the Pacers traded 630 to 76ersGC for Reizey and a 2023 first-round pick.
Rather than taking the stunning blockbuster to heart, 630 is re-channeling it into positivity. “It definitely kind of motivated me because, like you said, doing everything for the organization, winning all the awards. But, coming here, it was definitely a blessing and I was just super motivated,” 630 told The Painted Lines.
“I knew the opportunity that was presenting itself. I came with a group of fighters ready to lock in and they just got done with competing in the Finals before I got here. So, we can’t go backwards, they just got to the Finals without me. So, my main job was come in and try to be better every day. Help everybody out and definitely just compliment Dre. Going into this year, seeing the first tournament played through, and, obviously, playing the 76ers in scrim[mage]s, like I’ve seen how good Dre was. And I was like, ‘He’s just missing that one piece’. Like he said, if I can come there and compliment or help him out off the court, on the court, it would definitely be something special.
“So, [the trade] definitely put a chip on my shoulder. But, it definitely wasn’t a chip on the shoulder from getting traded. It was a chip on the shoulder like, ‘Oh, Sav was the best player in the world last year, but this year he’s not that good. He’s getting traded. He’s not what he used to be’. So, it definitely gave me extra motivation to come here and work harder.”
As much promise as 630 has shown in his career to date, the team finds itself amongst the league’s elite because of the partnership he has with Dre.
Dre was the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA 2K League draft. While he didn’t grab the headlines that 630 did in their rookie season, he’s established himself as a star in 2022. Terrell and 630, Dre says, have been key figures in his growth.
“I feel like what [Terrell] does behind doors doesn’t really go as appreciated as it should. Me developing as a player, Jeff had a big, big role. Especially my player growth, especially in this league, whether it’s on the court, off the court, communication, you know. Building even other things, like building friendships, you know. Just exploring other things besides 2K,” Dre told The Painted Lines.
“He had a big, big impact on player growth, and that’s really important, especially when you’re a young guard inside this league. You want to make sure you figure it out because he might not say it, but coming into the league, especially at my draft pick and the team that I went to, I have some pretty big shoes to fill in. You’re coming in and coming into Philly. You know, everybody knows Philly as a winning team, one of the most winningest teams in the league. You’re coming in expected to win, you’re expected to be the best. So, to answer your question, he’s had a pretty big impact on my player growth.”
As for his teammate in the backcourt, Dre feels the synergy.
“I felt like I’ve always been missing that one piece that put me over the edge. Like a good guard, someone that’s alongside me that’s willing to go to battle for me, someone that has my back. I felt like Sav was probably the best guard to compliment my game,” he told The Painted Lines on Thursday.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to explain what we do on the court. But, everything just clicks. He and I know what we want and we just do it, stuff like that. It’s hard to find in the league, especially with all the different types of personalities and stuff. So, finding that is a big part of my success.”
As much as Dre credits Terrell and Sav for helping him grow, life needed to deviate from expectations for the three to cross paths. The head coach doubling as general manager and the blockbuster acquisition are in this business in large part due to personal hardships.
Sav used to play basketball on hardwoods, but a leg injury forced him to play on a controller instead. “Going into my freshman year in high school, I got diagnosed with a knee disease and the doctor basically told me, ‘One, you’re never gonna grow again. Two, you can’t play basketball no more’. So when I heard that, like me loving basketball, playing basketball every day my whole life, it definitely hit me hard,” he said.
“But at the same time, I was still playing 2K back home every day. And once I heard I couldn’t play basketball in real life no more, that’s kind of why I picked up 2K more and more. Just playing against other better players in the world and then just being one of the top players at 14-15 years old. Just knowing I’m that elite already at the game, I was like, ‘Okay, I can definitely make a career out of this’.”
As for Terrell, buying a PlayStation and a copy of 2K satisfied an itch while he was immobilized. “I was playing college basketball at the time. Me and my wife were going to visit the hospital my son was going to be born at and we got in a pretty bad car wreck. I was on bed rest for about eight months. I was going crazy after month one because I’m used to going to weights in the morning, two-a-days, practice. I’m a college athlete. So, I’m laying in bed and I was like, ‘Man, I gotta do something. Let’s buy a 2K, buy Playstation’,” Terrell said.
“I know some guys played. I never played, and this was in 2015. And I just started playing non-stop for five months. The league came out and I started playing in Pro-Am leagues and I made it through to the interview process, season one.”
While that was the extent of Terrell’s exposure in his first attempt to break into the league, the now-President of the league, Brendan Donohue, took notice. He reached out to Terrell and advised him to get involved in a coaching or front office capacity.
But once again, Terrell almost didn’t end up in Philly.
“The Knicks reached out to me. At first, I signed a deal. Then, Philadelphia reached out to me the same night I signed the deal. I had to back out on the Knicks and come to Philly and the rest has been history. I’ve been blessed and I got super lucky and I’m thankful to be in the position I’m in,” Terrell said.
The Coach of the Year candidate had immensely productive conversations with Philadelphia’s brass. “I felt at home, to be honest with you. The Knicks, I loved them. They were awesome to talk to, as well. But, I don’t know. I’m a gritty person. Like Sav said, I’m very animated. I’m very passionate. When I talked to Philly, they’re so passionate about it. I didn’t understand what the league and what a coach and what a GM meant at the time. So, just them being so passionate about it, it was a no-brainer for me,” Terrell said.
“So, I’m thankful I made that decision. It was a tough one, but I’m thankful I did it and I’m blessed to be where I’m at.”
Two unfortunate, unplanned, and unpredictable circumstances brought three strangers together. Bound by their love for basketball, 630, Dre, and Terrell have found a synergy to lead 76ersGC to the cusp of a championship. The team is current the top seed in the Eastern Conference for 5v5 play and the 3-seed in the East for 3v3 play.
If Dre is any barometer of how the whole team feels heading into a fight for all the glory, 76ersGC has the right mindset. “I’m not a super egotistical kind of person. So, I’m not going to come in here saying all we’re going to win the chip. But, I feel like having a coach like Jeff Terrell is definitely going to prepare us enough. We scrim a lot, we practice a lot. One thing we’ll make sure by the time game time comes is we’ll definitely be prepared,” Dre said.
“We’ll definitely be the most prepared team. It’s definitely going to show when we step on the court.”
As for what happens if 76ers Gaming Club reaches the pinnacle of the league, Terrell has a plan.
“If we go win this championship, we’re going to Disneyland. Isn’t that what they usually do?”
With a laugh, 630 says, “We’re going to Disneyland.”