In the run-up to the NBA Draft, there were no questions — at least publicly — about Jahlil Okafor‘s character. But of late there has been a run or incidents since then: He allegedly had a gun pulled on him outside a club in October; in November he was ticketed for driving more than 100 mph on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge; then he had an altercation with a guy outside a club in Boston that the police in that city are now investigating.
The Sixers are making sure a security guard follows Okafor around when he steps out now, reports Chris Broussard at ESPN.
After being involved recently in a few embarrassing and potentially dangerous off-the-court incidents, Philadelphia 76ers star rookie Jahlil Okafor will now be accompanied by a security guard whenever he goes out, according to league sources.
The request for security came from Okafor’s handlers, who asked the 76ers to make a security guard available to their first-round draft pick out of Duke. The Sixers did not return a phone call seeking comment, but two sources said the club will honor the request.
Earlier in the day a source had wondered to John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com why there wasn’t already security around the young core of the team when they went out.
Another front office member for another team questioned “why the Sixers won’t surround those guys with security.”
“Damn near every team does that,” the executive said, “especially with their top guys. I guess the Sixers know more than everyone else again.”
The Sixers head of security is supposed to be notified when players went out. Apparently that was not happening.
Okafor is 19, has money, and (at the very least) is putting himself in situations where bad things are more likely to occur.
We all made a lot of mistakes at that age, maybe not as potentially serious, but the bottom line is 19-year-olds don’t make good decisions. This is a Sixers team lacking in veteran leadership in the locker room, and while it’s debatable how much that would help in the wee small hours of the morning when Okafor seems to find trouble, it couldn’t hurt.
This is a smart move by Okafor’s friends/posse/handlers/whatever you call them. Get in his face now, tell him he can lose a fan base whether he’s scoring 17.5 points a game a night or not. Tell him to grow up. Then have someone around him to make sure he does the right thing (or those looking to draw him into trouble are kept away).