NEW YORK — One would think that in his ninth year in the NBA, playing in Madison Square Garden would lose some luster for Tobias Harris.
That's far from the case for the 76ers forward who grew up about 50 miles away, on Long Island. The 27-year-old made his 12th professional appearance in the Garden on Friday night against the New York Knicks. He finished with 19 points on 9 for 16 shooting to go with six rebounds, two blocks, one steal and four turnovers in the Sixers' 101-95 victory.
"It's always a special place," Harris, Mr. New York Basketball in 2010, said following Friday morning's shootaround. "I have a lot of family to come out and support, and the Garden is great place to play, too."
Harris averaged 14.7 points in first 11 games there. His best game at the Garden was a 31-point performance as a Detroit Piston on Oct. 21, 2017.
However, as a youth, Harris's "wow" moment was meeting Michael Jordan. His father, Torrel Harris, was an NBA agent, and he introduced his sons to arguably the league's greatest player following a Chicago Bulls-Knicks game. Tobias Harris believes it was during the 1997-98 season, Jordan's last with the Bulls.
"That was amazing," Harris said, "a kid's dream."
Harris also dreamed of being an NBA player back then.
"I always had dreams of working my way up to it," he said. "But, as a little kid, watching the NBA in the Garden ... can really make you feel like you can be there."
Former Sixer T.J. McConnell will face his old team for the first time when the Sixers host the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
McConnell, 27, signed with the Sixers as an undrafted free agent on Sept. 22, 2015. After four seasons, the reserve point guard signed a two-year, $7 million deal with Indiana on July 29. He was averaging a career-best 7.4 points to go with 4.9 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 18.0 minutes heading into Friday's home game against the Atlanta Hawks.
As a Sixer, McConnell averaged 6.4 points, 4.7 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 22.0 minutes in 314 games, including 72 starts.