The “Free Jah” movement is up and running, especially now that it’s clear that Okafor won’t even see the court in garbage time for the surging Sixers.
Even with Joel Embiid encouraging it and fans asking for Okafor to play, he stayed on the bench on Wednesday night as the Sixers closed out the Portland Trail Blazers.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sixers coach Brett Brown said after the game that he didn’t want to play Okafor in that situation out of “respect” for him.
“To just hoist somebody a little tiny window of minutes isn’t something that interests me,” Brown said after the 101-81 win against Portland. “I say that out of respect to [Okafor]. I don’t think that puts him in a position that I want to put him in.”
It’s a completely reasonable thing for a coach to say but you have to feel for Okafor, who has only seen the floor in two games this season as the team actively looks for a trade partner for the forward.
It’s a tough situation for everyone, but perhaps Embiid has the best take on it all. He’s friends with Okafor, after all, and though it seems clear that he has no future in Philadelphia, Embiid wants the best for his teammate.
“I feel like he deserves a chance, and I support him,” Embiid said. “I’ve got to have my teammate’s back.”
Okafor will have a chance to play for someone soon enough, but it seems like Philadelphia just isn’t on the table anymore.