The 28-year-old is trying to let his play back up his case, evidenced by the 30 points he poured in during Tuesday night’s 99-96 come-from-behind win over the New York Knicks in Philadelphia.
But he’s also offering other reminders, too.
After knocking down a turnaround jumper over swingman Reggie Bullock with 1:49 left in regulation that gave the Sixers a four-point lead, Harris decided to remind everybody how he’s feeling about that perceived snub. “I’m an All-Star!” he was caught saying by the NBC Sports Philadelphia cameras.
“That’s for sure what I said,” Harris said postgame. “For me, that’s just reaffirming that to myself. I know the fans know that, but reaffirming that to them and to myself, especially making those big plays. I try to just find motivation in different areas. That’s one of them.”
Harris, who is averaging 20.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4 assists this month, has the support of his teammates and coaches — especially as he helps carry a Sixers team playing without All-Star center Joel Embiid, who is out at least two weeks with a left knee bone bruise.
“He was pissed off,” Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons said, referencing Harris and his omission from the All-Star team. “He should have been an All-Star. You got a few guys — myself and Joel on this team, and then Tobias, I think people just take for granted how talented he is. If he was on the team I don’t want to take anything away from any other All-Stars but if he was on a different team, he’s going to be putting up those numbers. It’s clear he’s able to do that. But obviously it went the way it went, but he is, no matter what. To us, he’s an All-Star, he’s one of those guys who can get it done, go get a bucket. He’s a big time player.”
Harris also acknowledged that he is embracing the challenge of trying to lead the Sixers with Embiid out. Led by Simmons and Harris, the Sixers have won six straight games and enter Wednesday’s showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks with an Eastern Conference-leading 28-12 record.
“It’s a new challenge for us as a team,” Harris said. “And I want to embrace that challenge because I know how good of a team we are with him. I know how good of a team we are even without having him. So obviously we need him, but at the same time I embrace all those challenges. What anybody has to say, it doesn’t really affect myself because I know when I look everyone in that locker room in the eye before the game, we’re ready to go out there and win.”
Sixers coach Doc Rivers knows that Harris is playing with a little extra edge to his game, especially given that he has yet to make an All-Star appearance during his 10-year career.
“I’m sure it fuels him,” Rivers said. “He is an All-Star on my opinion. And that’s not a slight; I think whenever someone says that they mean someone else isn’t. Everyone’s deserving who was on it, but Tobias is one as well. I think Tobias wants to win, but I still think he thinks he should have been on the All-Star team, and I agree with that.”
Aside from the snub, Harris said he had even more motivation to make sure the Sixers closed out the victory Tuesday night.
“It’s Joel’s birthday,” Harris said. “So I wanted to make sure that he could eat his cake in peace and enjoy his birthday today. Emotions for me honestly, it’s the challenge that’s ahead for this squad and this team with big fella down. How every night we have to bring it and we have to find — our identity and who we are out on the floor. And we’ve been doing it night in and night out so far.”