Much has been said about Jahlil Okafor’s lack of maturity, his post-bar fights, and the effect losing is having on him. But we haven’t really heard much from Jah’s side of things. On Saturday night, I helped my dad (an Elementary School principal) chaperon a group of 4th graders to the Sixers game. All of their tickets, some pre-game pizza, a t-shirt, and more were personally paid for by Jahlil Okafor. He (and his dad Chuk) organized it so the kids could watch the pre-game shoot-around from right behind the basket, which also allowed me to give the stink-eye to Andrea Bargnani. It was nice.
ESPN writer Robert Sanchez was also there as part of a profile he was working on of Okafor, which went online today. It’s an interesting and informative piece. We find out that Okafor has only watched the Boston video once because he’s ashamed, he hasn’t completely stopped drinking, and he wants to stay in Philadelphia into the future. We also learn that “veteran presence” is REAL:
BEFORE THE GAME against Brooklyn, Okafor piles into a black Land Rover with [a rep for his agent, Alyson] Furch. It’s 4:42 p.m., and he has to be at the Wells Fargo Center in 18 minutes. Okafor presses the gas, but he doesn’t get far. Traffic. Stoplight. More traffic. This will not be a 108-mile-per-hour drive. He checks the time, pulls up Adele on his phone, and the first strains of “Remedy” blow through the speakers.
The Land Rover doesn’t belong to him. It’s Elton Brand’s. The former first-overall pick — a 17-year NBA veteran and former Duke standout — is Okafor’s new teammate. He’s letting Okafor borrow the vehicle to get around the city during the winter. “He wants me to be smart about my money,” Okafor says.
“That’s a real veteran move,” Furch adds.
Veteran presence is real. It helps teams win games, share cars, and … I guess that’s mostly it.