NBA Dunk Champion Mac McClung Praises Former Sixers Coach Doc Rivers' 'Leadership' (Exclusive)

McClung tells PEOPLE he learned a lot from being around the "championship coach"

<p>Tim Nwachukwu/Getty, Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty</p>

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty, Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty

Mac McClung says he's learned to practice patience.

The 24-year-old NBA player tells PEOPLE he's had to learn to trust his process while playing with the Philadelphia 76ers under former coach Doc Rivers this season.

"It was great. I always believe that you are where you're supposed to be, so I try to be patient," says McClung, who split his time this season between the Sixers and the G-League champions, the Delaware Blue Coats.

"Obviously, my goal is to be in the NBA, but I think it was a really successful year for me, statistically, team-wise," he adds. "It was really a great year and I had a lot of fun with it."

<p>Sarah Stier/Getty</p>

Sarah Stier/Getty

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The Sixers parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers after the team lost a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. McClung, who becomes a free agent on July 1, has nothing but praise for the Sixers' former head coach, 61.

"I got there a little later in the season, but just seeing his leadership and how he ran his practices" was largely inspiring to the NBA All-Star Dunk Champion. "He was always very kind to me, and just being around him, a championship coach, for much as I was, it was nice," he adds.

<p>Tim Nwachukwu/Getty </p>

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty

After getting time with the Sixers and helping lead the Blue Coats to a championship, McClung believes he's ready for more responsibility in the NBA next season.

McClung says, "I want to be in the NBA next year. I feel like throughout the season, with my numbers, our team winning a championship in the G League, and my opportunity when I got with the Sixers, I feel like I'm ready for an NBA role. That's all in God's time, though, so I'll be patient in whatever that is. That's the goal, to be in the NBA and make an impact and win."

Related:Ben Simmons Talks About Mental Health, Says He Was in 'Bad Place' During Time with Philadelphia 76ers

In the meantime, McClung is enjoying the NBA's Conference Finals matchups in partnership with AT&T's Dunk Pool. For every dunk in the remaining games, AT&T will add “$5Gs” to the Dunk Pool Presented by AT&T 5G where eligible AT&T wireless customers can enter to get a $50 gift card at that can be used toward

He predicts the NBA star with the most dunks will be Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo, but adds that "LeBron James would always be a good guess."

Related:LeBron James Passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Become Highest-Scoring NBA Player of All Time

<p>Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty</p> Mac McClung, Doc Rivers

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty

Mac McClung, Doc Rivers

The 2023 All-Star Weekend dunk champion tells PEOPLE that after winning the contest, he actually had "to stop dunking" for a bit. "I needed a little rest from the dunking because I was preparing so hard. So I've been preparing mentally right now. I still dunk and stuff, but I'm just preparing mentally, just thinking of some new dunks and being ready if that's the situation and just trying to be creative with it," he says.

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