Six years ago, Thaddeus Young was a wide-eyed rookie from Georgia Tech. Everything was new. Everything was intriguing, exhilarating, exciting.
Now Young is the longest-tenured player on the Sixers. In six seasons, he has played for four coaches — Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan and Doug Collins. A fifth coach is on the way.
As the regular season wound down, Young looked tired. It wasn't physical exhaustion as much as mental exhaustion. No player on the Sixers wants to win more than Young.
"There's nothing like it," Young said. "We work so hard and you want to be rewarded for it. You want to be playing in the postseason. There's nothing like playoff basketball."
Young has played in his share of playoff games and sitting home just isn't the same.
"Yeah, I'll watch some of the playoff games, but it's tough, you know?," said Young, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract before the 2011-12 season with the deal running through 2015-16. "After the season, I'll take a couple of weeks and recuperate. Then it's right back to work. I plan on working extremely hard in the offseason. I have to maintain my conditioning.
"Then it's back to the gym to keep working on every aspect of my game. The organization made a commitment to me and I made a commitment to them. I know I can keep improving. I haven't even come close to reaching my potential."
When the 2013-14 season gets underway, Young won't be that shy rookie anymore. Try a seasoned veteran.
"It has happened so fast," Young said. "It's kind of hard to believe. I plan on doing the same thing I've been doing. It starts and ends with hard work. It's the only way I know."