Tyrese Maxey’s life, at least from the outside, certainly feels like it’s in a constant state of euphoria. He almost always has a look on his face that screams, “I can’t believe this is my life!”
And how can you blame him? In just about two years, he’s developed into not just a very good basketball player, but a legitimate franchise cornerstone alongside two established superstars in Joel Embiid and James Harden. Along the way, he’s become one of the most likable athletes in recent Philly sports history, which is a fairly impressive feat considering he’s on the same team as a universally-beloved figure in Embiid.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to figure out why Maxey has achieved that status. He’s young, has rapidly improved well beyond most people’s expectations in a short period of time, is by numerous accounts one of the hardest-workers on the team, and is very good at what he does. And most importantly, especially when it comes to evaluating a player’s likability, Maxey’s personality is infectious. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find an instance of him having a look of anger or despondence on his face. Add all of that up, and he is a guy fans do not hesitate to swoon over.
Just look at the past week he’s had. Over the 4th of July weekend, Michael Rubin threw a massive party at his mansion in the Hamptons. It was attended by, among many uber-famous people, Embiid, Harden and newest teammate P.J. Tucker.
While Embiid, Harden and Tucker were on the stage jumping around with Meek Mill, Maxey was also there, albeit in the crowd, looking like he was just happy to be there.
He also may or may not have been an accessory to Rubin’s activities that definitely did not involve some form of tampering.
Donovan Mitchell, ring that bell brotha pic.twitter.com/aCKAm0A10R— Josh Reynolds (@JoshReynolds24) July 4, 2022
Not long after his escapades in the Hamptons, he made the day of a young fan who, when presented with the mere idea of Maxey being traded for Kevin Durant, came pretty close to having a full-on emotional breakdown in a video that went viral.
VIDEO: @TyreseMaxey surprises the young @sixers fan who became emotional at the thought of Tyrese playing for another team.— Dave Uram (@MrUram) July 7, 2022
8-year-old Zack Wagner is @KYWNewsradio's Philadelphia Sports Fan of the Week for his passion and commitment to the Sixers. https://t.co/2UPrBsYDve pic.twitter.com/NlgZKLbG3l
He then capped off his week with a workout alongside Harden and Sixers assistant coach Sam Cassell that featured Cassell hilariously explaining a drill and Maxey off to the side grinning all right through it.
All three of those events pretty much encapsulate why Philly sports fans as a whole have developed such a strong affinity for Maxey. On top of being dedicated to his craft, he goes about everything with contagious energy. In almost every situation he’s in, he’s like that younger cousin who just always seems excited to be hanging out with the older crew at a family function.
For all of the ridicule Philly sports fans receive for the, at times, harsh treatment of the teams they support, not a whole lot has to be done for an athlete to ingratiate oneself to them. They want athletes that can absorb and respond to criticism, excel at their roles, are dedicated to their crafts, carry themselves on and off the playing field in ways that fans can get behind, and indulge in the city’s interests. Anyone that does all of that is revered. Of course, winning while doing so is just the cherry on top.
Every well-liked Philly athlete of the last decade-plus has followed that playbook in some shape or form. In the past, think guys such as Brian Dawkins, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Allen Iverson, who still to this day receives a hero’s welcome quite literally every time he returns to Philly. In more recent history, there is of course Embiid, Nick Foles, and Bryce Harper, who on top of being an exceptional player, is never one to shy away away from some light pandering.
Maxey is certainly on his way to finding himself in that category. Beyond being someone who checks off every box a Philly fan would be looking for in someone to support, his rise to legitimate building block arguably couldn’t have come at a better time. He helped washed away a good amount of the negative energy that was brought on by last year’s Ben Simmons fiasco. Without Maxey’s ascension, it’s fair to question what the state of this Sixers team would be.
If the last year or so is any indication, Maxey’s status as beloved Philly athlete should continue to be true.