Some kids need a leg up in life. Others have to learn the hard way. That was the lesson Jahlil Okafor imparted on a couple of young fans at a 76ers Beach Bash event in Philadelphia Monday. After helping one little girl get up for a monster flush, he swatted another kid’s shot into next Tuesday. There are no easy buckets in the NBA.
Okafor is fresh off of a pair of dominant performances in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas last month which demonstrated unequivocally why he was considered one of the top prospects in this summer’s Draft. Most folks around the league believe his unusually-advanced post game will help him make an immediate impact for the Sixers, which would be particularly helpful given Joel Embiid’s uncertain prognosis for the coming season and beyond.
Philadelphia should be better than their 18-64 record from last season, and Okafor will most likely give the fans something to cheer about along the way. It’s a responsibility he takes seriously. Here’s what he had to say to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer during the meet-and-greet and autograph signing Monday:
“The second I got to Philadelphia I cherished the fans right away and saw how passionate the fans were about the Sixers,” said Okafor, who led Duke to an NCAA title in his only college season. “That means a lot to me. I have a lot of work to do to make sure I make them proud.”
But as Julius Irving let slip earlier this year, franchise owner Josh Harris and G.M. Sam Hinkie have implemented a plan (i.e. stockpiling as many assets as possible) that likely won’t have them in contention for another five years or so.