Tyrese Maxey embraces leadership role in Joel Embiid’s absence: ‘I feel I was made for this’


Not too long ago, the 76ers was a star-studded roster which boasted the likes of Ben Simmons and James Harden. Now that both of those guards are gone, and Joel Embiid has fallen to injury, only Tyrese Maxey remains standing in Philadelphia. The young athlete has taken on the role of leading the team while the reigning MVP recovers. 

You would say this responsibility could come both as a blessing and a curse, but the 23-year-old assures that he was made for this and doesn’t back down from it. To him, this is the chance for him to soar and prove his worth.

Now when Philly attacks, he has the ball in his hands and has the freedom to take control as he pleases. As the Sixers have fallen to the Eastern Conference’s 6th spot and are endangered of falling out of playoff contention, Tyrese is expected to save his team’s season.

When Maxey thinks about this, he can’t help but wonder when his co-star Embiid will heal from a repaired knee. “I hope the big guy hurries back,” he said laughing. “But I feel confident being put in this situation. I feel like I’m made for this.”

The truth is, Philadelphia was solid in the conference’s 3rd spot only a month ago, and they’ve been free falling this February. The team depends on the guard’s high energy, his three-point efficiency, his gear shifts and getting his teammates to the rim.

His coach Nick Nurse recognizes his improvement both as a passer and with his defense. However, one of his biggest inspirations remains in Harden, who Tyrese admitted still has a great relationship with. “James and I still talk to this day,” the 23-year-old said.

“He tells me, ‘Man, when I watch you, I knew this was coming. I know a lot of people didn’t, but I did.’ Ben believed in me, too. I love those guys. Not because they didn’t come back. Because they believed in me. Same for Joel. I think about it every day, how the situation changed and created opportunities for me. Every day,” Maxey shared.

Tyrese revealed how certain conversations with his star teammates haven given him the confidence to lead

Back when Maxey was a rookie, he came off the bench and rarely played deep into fourth quarters. Three years ago, he averaged 8 points per game and shot 30.1% from beyond the arc. However, his teammates still saw greatness in him.

“There was a time in practice my rookie year. I was with the third group. We beat the second and first group in a couple of drills. Joel said, ‘I think you can help us at some point.’ He told me to go out and be myself,” Tyrese still reminisces to this day.

There 23-year-old remembers the time they Philly traded for Harden, who took on training him personally to develop his potential. “When we traded for James, I felt I was getting better every day,” the young guard said. “When James came in, he was extremely aggressive in my development. He was always on me about how I work.”

“This year coming in, Joel told me I’m going to be an All-Star,” Maxey said before the start of this campaign. “When the MVP believes in you, then you have to have confidence in yourself. I knew I had to go out and play like an All-Star.”