By LARRY VAUGHT
His playing time dropped when Philadelphia got its full roster healthy but former Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey has not complained because that’s just not what he does.
“People love him,” said Amy Fadool Kane, Emmy award winner sports/anchor report for NBCSPhilly. “This is a pretty rich basketball area. I didn’t know that as much untilI I moved up here but they have a really good basketball tradition and they appreciate a player like Tyrese.”
Kane, a UK graduate, was thrilled when Maxey fell to the 21st pick in the 2020 draft and the 76ers got him. Philadelphia fans were not as happy.
“Some of them had ill-conceived notions about his shot but I had written a piece about I knew he would not be there when the 76ers got a pick but if he was, they should take him. He’s made me look like a genius,” Kane said.
He’s been as popular off the court as he has with his play when he’s been on the court.
“He has so much personality as UK fans know,” Kane, a former WKYT-TV sports reporter, said. “He just fits in so well here and is an excellent player, too. Fans here love guys who perform well on and off the court like he does.
“He is fully comfortable being here and says Kentucky prepared him well for this. He just wows people. They are enamored with him. You can see that on my (social media) timeline during 76ers games and when he exploded for 39 points against the Nuggets it was insane.”
Through 26 games, Maxey was averaging 8.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and shooting 45 percent from the field, 29 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent at the foul line.
Kane said Philadelphia fans were used to “unanswered hopes in the draft” and that made them cautious about Maxey.
“They have a lot of unfilled hopes,” Kane said. “The nickname for her is Neg-a-delphia. Fans have been let down by teams so much. It is a long suffering fan base that is very cautious. People wondered why he was projected so high in the draft and then fell to 21.
“He only shot 29 percent from 3 (at Kentucky) but I told everybody here to take it from me, somebody who watched every minute he played at UK, that he could shoot. If a guy can shoot free throws, he can shoot. I saw he was an 83 percent free throw shooter, so that should tell you all you need to know about his shooting.
“Here he has shown he not only can shoot but can shoot well and shoot often if needed. He can play off the ball. He has opened a lot of eyes. I don’t think anyone was ever really down on him. There was just some cautiousness but he has answered everything with affirmatives. This is a blue-collar town and they love guys who play defense and run and do that extra effort stuff. They love him.”
Maxey was her first guest on “1-2-3-4-5 Sixers” and that was her first time to interview him since there was limited preseason access to all players.
“He sits down and is wearing a UK shirt. He said he wears his UK stuff all the time. That was like a real insight to who he is and how he carries himself. I liked the kid right away,” Kane said. “He is so poised and polished for 20 (years old) and does not just say stuff to be saying it. He gives a lot of really good responses and people are able to see what he is like and see his lighter side.
“He is always smiling, always working. Those two qualities get you far in this league. In the middle of the season you have to have a positive attitude. You have got to have guys like that on the team.”
Kane is part of Philadelphia pregame and postgame shows. Analysts are former NBA player Mark Jackson and former NBA coach/general manager Jim Lynam.
“Jim is really impressed with Tyrese. He sees things from a coaching/GM perspective. He sees him as a real building block and all-star level player for this team,” Kane said. “He likes that he can play point guard and two guard. Jim says if you can play two positions and create your own shot you can have a very good NBA career. That’s why he said the kid is going to be an all-star.”