Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic has endured rumors and speculation surrounding a possible NBA trade. Now his father has spoken out about the player's prospects and the family's faith in God.
In an exclusive interview conducted by the Gospel Herald, Torrel Harris talked about the possibility of his son putting on a New York Knicks jersey. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that the guard, who has expressed interest in the Knicks, became a restricted free agent instead of signing a four-year, $36 million extension offer from the Magic.
"The thing is, I love the Knicks for one reason," the elder Harris said, citing how great the Knicks were back in the day. "When you talk about the team, and the [Madison Square] Garden, that's what I love about New York."
However, despite being a loyal Knicks fan, Harris did pay some respect to his son's team.
"My son, he plays for the Orlando Magic, and we respect the Orlando Magic, and he likes the Orlando Magic. It's a good organization," Harris said. "The type of player Tobias is that he does what the organization asks him to do. He is a professional."
The elder Harris and his wife Lisa are pillars of the community in Suffolk County, according to Berman. Tobias choked up when he talked about them in a surprise ceremony at his Long Island high school that retired his jersey; he wore the number 12 back in high school to honor a teammate who died of a rare blood disease.
"I was surprised," Tobias said. "I thought it was just for our championship team. I'm blessed. Like I was telling the guys, there isn't a day that goes by I don't think about my high school career."
His father thought that it was an "emotional retirement" in regards to the high school jersey and number, which Tobias took on after his teammate passed away.
"It was emotional in a lot of different ways, even for me, being his father," Harris said. "First, we worked in that gym since he was a kid in seventh grade."
According to his father, Tobias had a goal to honor his teammate.
"To see that number being retired up there, Tobias had a goal and the belief in God that he could succeed and reach that goal and play in the National Basketball Association, and also to play right here in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks," Harris said. "Out of all the hard work in that gym, it came full circle. It was emotional for Tobias and me, as his father, because seeing my son where he started at and where he's at today, and the goals that he accomplished, that was a special moment."
Harris credited God for the success his son had in the NBA so far.
"We just give thanks to God," Harris said. "This morning, when I woke up, I gave thanks to God."
However, Harris thought that the New York Post tried to ruin the moment with Berman's article, which "erroneously" cited a fan saying his son wanted to play for the Knicks.
"He kind of took away from the special moment that we had," Harris said. "The article was good, but he threw that in there ... Tobias didn't say that. People took that one little piece out and they ran with it."
Harris that people forgot that he was "a role model" and a "classy person," noting that his son's achievements were largely ignored by the media coverage when he visited Long Island.
"This trip wasn't about that," Harris said. "This trip was about a young man who had goals, who believed in God, who stuck to his goals, and by the faith of God, he achieved them."
Harris added that his son could be considered a good role model, considering that the Magic guard measured himself by a different standard in contrast to other athletes.
"If anybody has goals [and] faith, they should look at Tobias as a role model, which he is," Harris said. "He takes pride in that. That's why he's had successful basketball camps in the summer time. That's why he works the camps all summer."
Harris added that he was happy that his son "accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior."