Watch a Philadelphia 76ers game and it’s not long before your eyes fall on Tyrese Maxey, the team’s smiling, bubbly and always talkative guard. Now in his third season with Philadelphia, Maxey has emerged as the energetic man on the team, digging deep on defense and continuing to be a compelling offensive player.
Dime caught up with Maxey in Salt Lake City over All-Star Weekend to talk about his recent cameo in a new Starry commercial, which is what he calls the definition of “energy guy” as vets like him to be PJ Tucker learns and how he is the exuberant tether between James Harden and Joel Embiid.
How many takes did it take to make your amazing cameo in the new Starry commercial where you’re so shocked to see Keke Palmer kissing the man made out of Starry soda?
Honest? I’ll be honest with you. That was really my reaction when they showed me the actual video. I thought what? But it took maybe two or three tries because I had to drop the ball too. But my face, it was all real.
That was authentic.
It was all authentic!
Did you like the entire advertising appearance?
It was great, it was amazing. Starry is different, man. The whole little setup was amazing. It felt like family.
I wanted to ask you about energy. You’re such an energetic player, you’re so enthusiastic on the pitch, it’s your calling card, so to speak. But how do you keep up? Especially when you have those days when you don’t feel so natural?
I say this, the energy is quite authentic. I really like playing basketball. I love being part of the game. Since I can play basketball every day, I don’t have to get excited. I have a great organization behind me, great teammates, great coaches and people who believe in me. So I try to have as much faith in her as she has in me.
I know Doc asked you to get more defensive, track every possession, and do the little things. How are you working on it?
You just sort of put yourself out there in terms of effort. I feel like I always do – I’m giving everything I have to the game. And it’s always trying to do little things to get better every day. And that’s just a niche that will help now and in the long term.
Who do you work with and what do you do with them to improve there?
I train with Spencer Rivers, my player developer, and then with Sam Cassell. These two are the most important guys. Tyler Lashbrook watches a lot of movies with me. We work on many different things. In the summer you can work on your personal game, but during the season I have to work on being able to catch and shoot the ball because I play so many different roles when I’m out there with James [Harden] and Joel [Embiid], to be able to play against James, against Joel. Then I have to work on being the handler because I’m in a lot of those situations where James is down. So I have a lot of different roles to work on. But it was great and I love it.
Modern NBA, you gotta do a little bit of everything –
Yes you do.
– In that sense you are obviously refining yourself very well. But are there periods of adjustment where it feels like maybe those skills are clicking, but the next one isn’t quite there yet? Basically, how do you keep your brain clear?
Yes! Yes, but it’s a process. It’s really a process. It’s a daily grind and every day you get a percent better at what you’re trying to get better at. And I’ll say that, the NBA is an ever-changing situation and you have to be prepared for anything. I think I have a good mind, and Coach Cal [John Calipari], he did a good job in Kentucky preparing us for it. And I think it has served me well so far.
Do you like the dynamic you’ve built with Joel and James? You have achieved this great alchemy between the two.
Yeah, it’s like, I’m trying to pump them up as much as possible, you know? They’re rather reserved guys at times, not in an older way, but they’ve been at it for a long time. So I’m just trying to bring some fresh air into them. And then the court I try to help them as much as possible. They lean on me a lot to produce in the game and try to help with goalscoring, help with defense and also help with energy. I just go out and do my best every night.
I know it might be harder to define, but what does it mean to you to be an energy guy, what’s your own stamp on that title?
Energy types are different. My energy is just my attitude and positive attitude towards the game. And then you have another energy type like my teammate Paul Reed –
Ball Paul! This is an active energy type. So the energy I bring is just a positive attitude, someone who will always smile. Always enjoys playing, but is extremely competitive and likes to win. So that competitiveness and that happiness and that joy trickles out to others.
The Sixers are a pretty brave team. Do you find that every conflict clashes with the happy, upbeat energy you bring?
No, it’s kind of perfect. Because I will use myself as an example. I’ve worked extremely hard to get where I am and I think everyone in Philadelphia, especially the fans, works extremely hard to get their tickets or to take care of their families, so we kind of correlate. We see each other as equals when it comes to this aspect of life.
Coming back a bit to defensive mechanics, are there guys that you look at in the league that you think would improve your skills, or like what they’re doing?
I think the most important thing is that you try to find different ways to make an impact. And I think my way of being effective is that I put pressure on the ball really well because of my speed and pace, I can be disruptive and then I can also communicate because I like to talk. So those things are what I can bring to the defensive table.
How did you work on your defensive reads?
have game feel. I think as a player I took more risks to get steals. We’ve got Joel Embiid behind us, so sometimes we can risk a little more, [laughs] He will cover up our mistakes. Him and PJ Tucker. So that’s a good thing to have these two behind us.
I wanted to ask about PJ, it was a short lived experience but I miss having him in Toronto, he’s a great guy to be around.
He’s a great guy.
Have you learned a lot from a vet like him?
Yeah, you learn a lot from him, man. He has proven himself in the league. He knows what he’s talking about. He respects the game and when you have those vets who respect the game who are successful — he’s been to the last three conference finals, maybe even four when he was with Houston, and you just have to respect that. He’s a winner. He’ll bounce on the ground for a loose ball, he’ll guard who he needs to guard, he’ll talk and communicate. And even when he’s not playing, he’ll always be on the bench cheering you on and training you. I have nothing but love and respect for PJ Tucker.
Do you look at someone like that in terms of career longevity? How do you customize your skillset when you need it?
Like I said, it’s an ever-adapting, changing environment. So the thing is, if you don’t catch up with the game, the game will leave you behind. And I think we’re still talking about PJ, he found ways to stay relevant. He’s a really good 3rd corner shooter on defense, great locker room guy and he’s a winner. Guys want him on their team especially on a winning team, they really want a guy like PJ, when you have a guy like that it just builds your team’s resume and camaraderie.
What are your plans for the rest of the weekend?
I’ll do that, hang out here for a second. Then I go home and spend some time with my family, relax and prepare for the second half of the season. It’s going to be a big boost.
Do you like the chaos of this weekend?
It’s cool! Yes. You bring all the boys together, the brotherhood together. Everyone only sees each other on the pitch, but at the end of the day we’re all colleagues and we’re pretty cool with each other. The competition is big and all, but this is one big family.
https://uproxx.com/dimemag/tyrese-maxey-nba-all-star-game-interview-sixers/ Tyrese Maxey on the energy and resourcefulness he brings to Philly