Philadelphia (WPHL)- Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris has been the focus of a lot of chatter in recent months. There have been trade rumors, he’s been booed by fans, and his role changed this season. PHL17’s Doc Louallen had a chance to speak with Harris’ agent and father, Torrel Harris Sr., about what his son has been through this season and how he feels about the rumors. Harris Sr. talks about starting up his sports agency firm, clothing line, Sixers point guard status, and discussions about those who have mentored his son through the years as he worked towards becoming an NBA star.
Harris Sr. is the Chairman at Unique Sports Management International. The father of six is an entrepreneur and the first black minority to get a clothing license deal with the NBA and NFL. As an agent, he sealed the deal on the fifth-largest contract in NBA history for his son, making him the only father in professional sports to land a deal so massive. The 5-year $180 million deal is the largest deal in Sixers history.
Torrel Harris early life and Tobias Harris mentors
Born in NYC, Harris Sr., moved to Los Angeles, California, and returned to the east coast by middle school. At times, life was challenging, but Harris Sr. used basketball as an outlet and an opportunity to earn an athletic scholarship to Duquesne University. He eventually transferred and graduated from Murray State University.
In the summer of 1981, while they were both at college, Harris Sr. met and married his wife, Lisa Mulzac. Both are first-generation college graduates. Together they worked and raised their six children in Long Island, NY.
Harris Sr. began working as a buyer for Macy’s in Herald Square, NY. As his family grew, he knew that he needed a more lucrative career and started work at Northwestern Mutual. Once there, he became a top producer, which led to becoming a Sports Agent.
” I spent three years in the Sports Agency program, and when I finished, NBA Hall of Famer George “Iceman” Gervin became one of my first clients,” said Harris Sr.
In 1988, Harris Sr. founded the Unique Sports Management International LLC., a sports agency. His most notable clients are Harris, Gervin, Julius “Dr. J” Irving, Mark Davis, and Kelly Oubre Jr.
In 1991 Harris Sr., founded Unique Sport Generation (USG), the fashionable and reversible sports wear apparel. In 1994 and 1995 the product line became officially licensed by the NBA and NFL, respectively. USG was the first minority owned business to be licensed by the NBA and NFL, sales and productivity peeked in the early 2000’s.
All the while, Tobias and his siblings proudly wore the USG clothing line and knew firsthand the hard work and perseverance his father endured to be successful.
Tobias Harris also has inspiration from his mother’s side of the the family. Harris is the grandson of one of the Tuskegee Airmen. His grandfather, the late Lt. Colonel John I. Mulzac Sr., was among the first Black pilots and crew to be trained by the U.S. Military to be part of the 99th Fighter Squadron. Approximately one thousand Black pilots were trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.
After WWII, Lt. Mulzac Sr. flew in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Later, he served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was a New York State Air National Guard member. From 1942 to 1983, Lt. Colonel Mulzac logged more than 15,000 flying hours for the United States Air Force. In addition to his service, he was a New York City Firefighter for 20 years and, in the 1970s, became a member of the first group of U.S. Sky Marshals who protected American Airline carriers.
It wasn’t until high school that Tobias realized what an impact his grandfather had in making Black American history. He had overcome the challenges, trials, and tribulations to be successful.
Tobias Harris NBA Star
This season, Harris was affected by Covid-19 pretty bad, Harris Sr. said.
”He came back earlier than he should then almost two weeks later caught flu-like symptoms, Harris Sr. said. Tobias is an old school type of basketball player, says Harris Sr.; as a father, I didn’t want him to play because I was afraid after seeing how sick he was, but he told me he had to go help his team, and I couldn’t stop him.”
When asked how he feels about the current state of the 76ers, Harris Sr. says, “they are doing pretty good without a point guard.”
Harris Sr. says Patrick Beverly is high on his list to fill the point guard role for the 76ers for his toughness and his willingness to distribute the ball.
He does not think De’Aaron Fox is a good fit because he is too similar to Tyrese Maxey. He likes tough point guards who can play the game the right way and play defense.
No point guard on the floor is the most significant difference from last year to this year for Tobias, says Harris Sr.
” Without Simmons, there is no point guard on the floor for the team,” Harris Sr. says. “Tobias is so unselfish and wants to do whatever it takes for the team to win that now he becomes more of a point forward trying to get others involved, which is not his game.”
Harris Sr. says having Simmons on the court made everyone elses job easier. ” Last year Tobias would just get to his spot, and Simmons would find him now Tobias the one who has to find others there shot, Harris Sr says.”
He also believes the 76ers can win a title this season if Simmons comes back or the team acquires a good replacement point guard. ” Everyone was responsible for the loss against the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs, said Harris Sr., I want Simmons to stay because there aren’t too many true point guards in the NBA. None that are 6’10 and defend like him.”
Unfortunately, Simmons has not been the only 76er’s star in trade rumors. There has been chatter that the 76ers want to package Harris with Simmons in a potential trade.
When asked about Harris being in recent trade rumors. Harris Sr. stated, ” Nothing we haven’t been through before, we want to stay, but if traded, we will go wherever and still produce.”
- Email: Dlouallen@phl17.com
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