ROWLETT – Devin Harris has never won a championship, but he’s played in the NBA finals and he knows what the Toronto Raptors are thinking right now.
Or what they should be thinking.
It was 13 years ago this month that Harris was a second-year guard and a key player on the 2006 Mavericks’ team that reached the NBA finals. They went up 2-0 against the Miami Heat, who then reeled off four consecutive wins to break the Mavericks’ hearts.
Toronto was up 3-1 before getting nicked by a point on Monday by the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
It’s a crucial time in these finals and Harris has been there before.
“The only thing I can relate to is they better win it in Game 6,” Harris said Wednesday. “They better not let it go to seven. It’s going to be tough on the road. But I think the finals is all about momentum. And obviously that last game was a huge momentum change for Golden State, even though they lost Kevin Durant. They’ve kind of been playing without him anyway.
“To come home and be able to win Game 6 would be even more momentum going into Game 7, kind of what Cleveland experienced when they came back from down 3-1. It’s all about the confidence going into the game.”
Harris took time out of his appearance at the Mavericks’ Hoop Camp at Rowlett Community Center on Wednesday to discuss a myriad of topics. Part of it was to bond with about 100 kids who provided quite the challenge to Harris in 3-on-3 games and a spirited game of Knockout.
“It’s a privilege to be able to talk and work with the kids,” Harris said. “You ask any NBA player, and they had a chance when they were a kid to take part in something like this. And I think that’s why so many of us like to take part and give back.”
Harris has been making the rounds at Mavs’ Hoop Camps this week. Earlier on Wednesday while at a clinic with Jalen Brunson, Harris felt a little bad when he made a Euro-step move and one of the campers ended up falling.
But this week interacting with the kids is standard for Harris, who every summer has been part of the Mavericks’ summer camp programs, even in some years when he wasn’t with the team.
The 15-year veteran guard, has been with five NBA teams in his career, but has spent 10 of them with the Mavericks. He considers Dallas home. And when he plays his 15th game in the 2019-20 season, he will surpass 1,000 NBA games for his career.
And, while he hopes that happens in Dallas, Harris has perhaps the most sensible approach to his impending free agency as any player could have.
He said talking to Richard Jefferson, a former Maverick, showed him how a veteran should always look at free agency.
“One of my good friends, Richard Jefferson, last summer kind of explained to me where I am on the totem pole,” Harris said. “When July comes around and late July comes around, you are not a priority right now. August, mid-August, that’s your time. So until we get there, no, I’m not worried about it.
“I learned that last year. In the middle of July, I was like, ugh. But it’s not your time yet. August, that’s your time. This is where you are in your career. That’s when you start freaking out. July? Enjoy yourself. Because you got to let all those dominoes fall. And once those big pieces fall in place, they’re going to need other people to fill out teams and that’s where you come in. That’s what I learned last summer. And that’s the way I’m approaching it this summer.”
Sage advice from somebody who has just about seen it all in the NBA.