On Wednesday morning Jordan Brenner of SB Nation published a feature story on Sixers' center Jahlil Okafor.
In the piece Brenner does a phenomenal job of outlining Okafor's first two season's in the NBA, and gives us into Okafor's experience, which the stoic big man has yet to do before now.
Okafor discussed his new diet, handling criticism, the mistakes he made as a rookie, his future in Philadelphia, and his emotional past.
After reading this article it is clear that Okafor feels like he has been given a bit of a raw deal by his detractors. “I would hear somebody else get criticized, like ‘oh, this person is not good at that, but oh, he's going into his second year,’” Okafor said. “But when it's me, it’s ‘well, he's not good at that, he'll never be good at it.’ I never got the ‘oh, he's going into his second year.’”
Okafor even discussed how he feels that some of the ire that fans have projected towards him is unfair:
“I definitely feel like I'm the scapegoat for a lot of The Process issues. Something I learned is that when you lose, people find a reason why you're losing and I think that's where the defense thing really blew up — ‘oh, he can't play defense, that's why they only won 10 games.’ But there were a lot of other reasons why we only won 10 games that season.
“And then the second year rolls around. It's JoJo's first year playing NBA basketball, so he doesn't get the blame. And it's Dario's first year, so he doesn't get the blame. Nerlens just had surgery and Ben wasn't on the court either, so I felt like it was me again as the scapegoat.”
Okafor did clarify that he has no ill will or hard feelings with his team, and that he enjoys the organization and players very much, but after confusion over an impending trade and the team's players seemingly excluding him, Okafor is unsettled. “Sometimes I do think it would be great to get a fresh start, be on a new team, new surroundings, new teammates. I think about that often and I think that's something that could benefit me.”
Okafor's perspective comes off as very reasonable and provides an interesting take on his shortcomings that have been preyed on relentlessly.
Okafor has been the picture of professionalism during a time when the team treated him rather poorly. The full article is certainly worth a read, and may even change your mind a little bit on Jahlil Okafor.