BOSTON — Marcus Morris hails from the City of Brotherly Love and he does so with pride, even as he wears a Boston Celtics uniform.
"I love Philly, I mean really love Philly," he said after a preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. "I can't say it enough. I'm there in the offseason and spend as much time as I can. That's my home, that'll never change."
He doesn't have to say it much. He walked the halls of the TD Garden in Boston this past winter donning Eagles jerseys as the team made its Super Bowl run. He's been vocal over his seven-year NBA career about being from Philly and what that means to him, the chip it's put on his shoulder.
Now that the 76ers are experiencing a level of success, his Philadelphia loyalty has to be a little more defined. He doesn't want it to look as if he's rooting for the other team.
"Philly is who I am," Morris said, taking his time to find the right words. "I want to be clear — that city deserves every bit of success it can get."
Make no mistake, Morris is competitive. He is 29, and playing some of his best basketball for the Celtics. His NBA reputation is that of a physical enforcer and a player who will not back down — traits he's said are Philly-bred — and he's not willing to be known as anything less than a fierce competitor.
So long as Morris wears an opposing uniform and is competing against the Sixers, he is looking to win. That's how it was during last season's playoffs when his Celtics team beat the Sixers in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, and that's how it will be on Oct. 16 when the Celtics host the Sixers to ring in the new NBA season.
But when he's not on the court, or when he takes a step back from the situation to think about the landscape of the NBA and Philadelphia's position in it, his sentiment is different. He won't go as far as saying he's a Sixers fan, but he's definitely a fan of what the Sixers are doing.
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"There's no doubt that what the Sixers are doing is good for Philly," Morris said. "I know the struggle of the city and what it's like waiting for something good to happen. So for that, I'm happy for Philadelphia, I'm happy for my city."
His reason for being happy isn't limited to the fact that the Sixers made their first playoff appearance since 2012. Morris recognizes the talent the Sixers have in young stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and the command they've taken in the Eastern Conference.
Even the Sixers-Celtics rivalry, which Morris is a part of, is a reason for him to be happy.
It doesn't matter that the rivalry narrative might be inflated, or that both teams have players who are too young to have even developed a rivalry, or that the NBA itself is trying to create the rivalry by pitting the teams against each other on opening night.