In all walks of life, there is a fork buried in the middle of the path that all young people walk. The decision as to which direction to follow can often lead to two very different outcomes. On one hand, you have the ‘brick’ path. The brick is for those who already have it all figured out, or so they think. They want to do things their ways, forget about taking in sage advice from those who have finished that same walk. They have too much pride to listen, too much pride to admit that they need guidance. The path might get them to the same destination, but it likely wasn’t the easiest road to follow. The other path is the ‘sponge’. This is for those humble youngsters who feel no shame in listening and learning. They are happy, perhaps even giddy, to absorb the experiences and guidances offered by older generations. They usually find the desired destination, and their journeys are far easier than those of the bricks. Tyrese Maxey, all of 20-years-and-1-month old, seems to have chosen the ‘sponge’ path.
Given his work ethic, talent, and demeanor, he is already on the right path to NBA success. His mindset is the last piece of the equation and, based on what he has said thus far, is going to bridge the remaining distance for the rookie. On Sunday, Maxey spoke to the media ahead of Tuesday’s preseason opener and provided some insight into his mentality headed into his unofficial NBA debut.
“Do whatever I need to do to help keep the pace going, whatever coach Doc asks me to do.”
Maxey gave the impression of a young man who is not going to force anything. Rather, he wants to play within the confines of his team’s philosophies whilst letting the game come to him organically. “I think [expectations for himself in the preseason opener] to go out there and help the team,” Maxey said on Sunday. “Do whatever I need to do to help keep the pace going, whatever Coach Doc asks me to do.”
It may be naive to chalk that up as something more than political speak to a media market that can be as vicious as Philadelphia’s can be. His follow-up, however, lends belief that Maxey truly does buy into being an absorbative being. “I’ll have fun while doing it [whatever Coach Doc asks], being the biggest cheerleader, as well,” Maxey added.
Maxey, a 6’3″ guard out of the University of Kentucky, has an opportunity to grow into a significant role on a team that is both hoping to make a deep playoff run and lacking credible guard depth. If he maintains that ‘sponge’ mindset, he will be well on his way to earning Coach Rivers’ trust. His first test takes place on Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics on TNT. After practice on Sunday, Doc Rivers hinted that players like Maxey, vying for playing time off of Philadelphia’s bench, will get opportunities to prove themselves in that game. Rivers said, “I’m not gonna play guys forty minutes, but I’m gonna play our key guys, at least, in the first half a lot of minutes. Just let them kind of feel the rotation. The second half, probably go back to preseason basketball.”
Sponges soak in information, and Maxey’s first opportunity to showcase what he has learned thus far will come on Tuesday night.