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Tobias Harris' basketball camp includes hoops, nutrition, yoga and now esports

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, who grew up in Dix Hills and starred at Half Hollow Hills West and Long Island Lutheran, hosted his "Basketball & Life Skills Camp" at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury, starting Thursday. It's a four-day annual camp Harris, entering his ninth NBA season, has been hosting for the past five years. (Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware)

Tobias Harris is plenty used to returning to Long Island and discussing basketball with young athletes. But there was another sport added to Thursday’s agenda at Harris’ “Basketball and Life Skills Workshop” -- esports.

As part of a busy Thursday schedule at Harris’ fifth annual camp at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury, the 76er hosted a panel that discussed opportunities in esports.

“Never would have expected a panel on telling kids to play video games,” said Harris, who added he isn’t a big gamer himself, but has a soft spot for Pokemon games. “But it’s become kind of a big part of society where the esports industry, digital media, social media plays a huge part. And a lot of these kids play these video games, too, so I think it’s pretty cool.”

Harris, a Dix Hills native who signed five-year, $180 million contract with the 76ers in June, embraces his Long Island roots. He’s proud of returning each year, along with the fact that the young athletes do more than dribble and shoot a basketball at his four-day camp.

On Wednesday, Harris’ campers learned about nutrition and participated in meditation and yoga. Thursday, Harris handed out backpacks and school supplies to the approximate 85 boys and girls ages 11-18.

But, naturally, basketball also was a key part of the camp as athletes learned what the 6-9 forward entering his ninth NBA season has to offer.

“We just want to show the kids different elements,” said Harris, who starred at Half Hollow Hills West and Long Island Lutheran. “We want to show them how to play this game and at the same time, use this game to incorporate chemistry, treating each other right. We try to incorporate everything. We show them a lot of things that I put into my life and helped me be at my best self so they can also.”

For Harris, his best self led to securing a big payday this summer. Harris was one of the many players to finalize a deal quickly, re-signing with the 76ers on the first day of free agency.

Harris, who was represented by his father, Torrel, said they met with the 76ers on June 30 and quickly agreed to terms. The forward said he felt comfortable and wanted to stay in Philadelphia.

“That was a good process,” Harris said. “We were able to get a great deal done where I wanted to be and it went real smooth.”

Harris also said he thought the flurry of offseason signings and movement was good for the sport.  

“Everything happened real fast, so I kind of knew going in it was going to be that way, but good for the business of basketball,” Harris said. “Good for the NBA in general. Different movement, different guys going to different teams, so it was cool.”

Harris, 27, averaged 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in 27 regular-season games after being traded from the Clippers to the 76ers last season. And after playing for five different teams over eight seasons, Harris has his contract uncertainties behind him and eyes focused on helping the 76ers to a deep postseason run.

“I just want to go out and win,” Harris said. “Winning big and building the chemistry with our team and moving on from there, so I’m excited for this upcoming year.”

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