Joel Embiid just got a max contract extension.
Another 76ers center, Jahlil Okafor, is still trying to rehab his image after he got caught on video fighting on the streets of Boston in 2015 (and getting in another fight and speeding and allegedly trying to use a fake ID and playing ineffective defense and…).
Okafor opened up about that Boston fight and his place in Philadelphia.
Okafor, via Jordan Brenner of SB Nation:
“We were almost about to win that game against the Celtics and it ended up getting away from us in the fourth quarter,” Okafor says of that night in Boston. “I remember just being upset because I thought we were about to get our first win. And I just decided I’m going to go out that night. I don’t remember a lot of it, because I was really intoxicated. And me being drunk, I wasn’t in my right state of mind. I remember being taunted — just random stuff I would hear all the time on the court. I just reacted differently.”
Those early experiences hardened Okafor. He was shocked when the speeding ticket became major news, then again when a rumor spread that he’d used a fake ID at a bar near his house, an allegation he vehemently denies.
“I’m unsure if I’m still on the team,” Okafor says now. “Am I really a part of this process? Am I really a part of this culture? That’s why the guys have been out there on social media, but I’ve just kind of been in the dark. I’ll go to a Sixers event, smile, take pictures with the kids and stuff like that, but I’m still thinking, ‘am I a part of this team?’”
I don’t blame Okafor for feeling lost.
He obviously hasn’t always handled it the optimal way, but his anguish is understandable. He’d probably be better off with a fresh start elsewhere, and Philadelphia clearly wants to move on. It’s just a matter of finding the right trade.
For now, Okafor should focus on controlling what he can control. Easier said than done, though.