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76ers minority owner Will Smith makes appearance at team dinner

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Members of the Philadelphia 76ers were left in awe after actor Will Smith made a surprise appearance at a team dinner earlier this week.

Smith is Philadelphia native who along with wife Jada Pinkett Smith purchased a minority stake in the team in 2011. Despite being a frequent attendee at Sixers games at Wells Fargo Center, players, including Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and rookie Ben Simmons were nevertheless left completely starstruck in his presence.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Noel said. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Smith opted to inform and motivate rather than simply entertain, and his message seemed to resonate with the 76ers younger players.

“He’s a good guy,” Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk. … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Okafor similarly was left impressed with what Smith had to say, pointing out that Smith’s message was on point.

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” he said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.

“It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

The impromptu appearance by Smith, though, nevertheless managed to impress, simply due to his considerable star power.

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”