Count 76ers managing partner Josh Harris among those who are happy that Ben Simmons is back in Philadelphia.
In a prerecorded opening conversation at the Financial Times’ US Business of Sport summit, Harris said he was “super happy that Ben is back” and hinted that he expected. that the All-Star point guard is playing for the Sixers this season, despite Simmons holding on for nearly two weeks due to trade demand.
“We’re excited to see him on the pitch,” said Harris. “I probably shouldn’t mention specific conversations, but everyone – the team, the coaches, the owner group, myself – is really happy that he’s back in the market, and we can’t wait to see him on opening night. “
After Thursday’s practice, Sixers coach Doc Rivers did not say whether Simmons would join the team for Friday’s final preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. This is the first day he would be allowed to participate in team activities, assuming he passes the league’s COVID-19 testing protocols.
“Not yet, but we’ll find out,” Rivers said of Simmons’ status. “You will know.”
Harris, whose investment group Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment also owns the New Jersey Devils and English Premier League football club Crystal Palace FC, also addressed the vaccination rates of COVID-19 players in the NBA ( about 96%) and the NHL (about 99%) as both leagues get closer to the start of their regular season.
Harris said the Sixers’ vaccination rate is “very high,” but declined to release more specific data. He added that he was “happy to side with science, vaccination and public health,” and that he would continue to facilitate education of players on the safety and effectiveness of shooting.
Harris also said all discussions about possible future terms for NBA and NHL players will be between public health officials, player unions and the leagues. The NBA has already instituted terms of reference for team staff, referees and others who regularly interact with players in person.
“I am very proud of the fact that these are very high [vaccination] numbers, ”Harris said. “Compared to American companies or anywhere else you look, there are a lot fewer people vaccinated. … We will continue to push. Hopefully we will hit those numbers 100%, but everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do, and that’s what’s good about sport.
“You have to allow people to be individuals and express their views, and then you have to try to come together. And this process is there for everyone to see. It’s like democracy. It’s a little ugly. It’s a bit messy. But it allows people to ultimately try to build consensus and lead. “
The wide-ranging conversation with Sara Germano, the Financial Times U.S. sports correspondent, also covered Harris’ foray into buying and investing in franchises, how technological innovation has changed the way fans all over the world consume the sport and what it’s like to be the Sixers steward for the avid fans in Philadelphia.
When asked if he is considering new sports businesses, Harris said, “We are really focused on improving the sports franchises that we are investing in now.”
“I’m an investor by heart, so I’m always looking,” Harris said. “But there’s nothing I’m focusing on right now, other than the franchises we own.”
Sixers star Tobias Harris (knee pain) along with key reserves Matisse Thybulle (shoulder pain) and Shake Milton (sprained ankle) will not travel with the squad for Friday’s preseason final in Detroit, Rivers said. Two-way guard Grant Riller also remains out after tearing his meniscus in the preseason opener in Toronto last week.
Rivers said he hopes Harris, Thybulle and Milton can all return to training on Sunday. The coach added that Harris, who only played one preseason game, ran before Thursday’s practice and would “play” on Friday if it was a playoff game instead of a game. preparatory.
“It’s part of the plan,” Rivers said. “… We just wanted to move on, to make sure there weren’t any lingering issues.”
Second-year guard Tyrese Maxey, who missed Monday’s preseason game against Brooklyn with a groin contraction, has returned to training and will be available to play on Friday.
“I feel good, 100%, flying up and down the court,” Maxey said Thursday.