The latest NBA news has Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski defending Jahlil Okafor, the Philadelphia 76ers rookie center, who has been involved in several off court incidents as of late, according to ESPN.
Coach K defends Jahlil Okafor
Philadelphia 76ers rookie center Jahlil Okafor has made the headlines more this week than some rookies do during their entire inaugural season in the NBA. The articles were initially positive, as the former Duke University star had immediately jumped out and immediately competed with Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl Anthony Towns and New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis for the Rookie of the Year award. The stories then became troubling when Okafor started driving recklessly, used illegal IDs and got into street fights outside of bars.
All those negative incidents have given Okafor a really bad name in the media. The six-foot, 11-inch, 275-pound center was being painted as a villain. Many started wondering if the Sixers would be wise to get rid of him before things become worse. Rather than staying in the shadows and washing his hands of the situation, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to try to make the situation better for his former player. Krzyzewski said that Okafor made mistakes and should be punished for it, but people should move on and not give him a label.
Coach K boosting credibility
Considering the fact that he has a lifetime contract with Duke University, it is easy to see that Krzyzewski is one of the most respected people not just in college basketball but in all of sports. He is affectionately known as Coach K by high school, collegiate, and professional players. Those that have played for him would still jump through a brick wall on command. Krzyzewski’s words about Jahlil Okafor carries more weight than others, like former Golden State Warriors forward Chris Webber, so there might be hope for the 19-year-old Arkansas native after all.
Very few would question that Krzyzewski is doing this because he genuinely does care about his players. Even though Jahlil only played one season for Duke University, Mike cares a lot about Okafor. The fact that he defended a former player will bode well for his ability to scout, which is already second to none. The Blue Devils routinely field one of the top basketball draft classes in the NCAA. This public display of support only increases the legendary status of Krzyzewski.
Philadelphia 76ers Lacking Leadership
The Philadelphia 76ers have been the laughingstock on the NBA for a couple of years now. It seems like the team has been forever stuck in a rebuilding period. Sixers team president Sam Hinkie needs to add more leadership to his franchise. Head coach Brett Brown was a tremendous start especially since he came from the San Antonio Spurs system that Gregg Popovich has mastered. Philadelphia needs to bring in NBA players, both past and present, because younger players like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor will connect better with them.
On the court, the 76ers could use someone like Andre Miller on the bench. Even at 39, he can still provide approximately 15 minutes of solid play for Philadelphia. Miller has seen quite a bit during his time with the NBA so he could pass that knowledge on to guys like Noel and Okafor. The Minnesota Timberwolves already have plenty of leadership from Kevin Garnett, so Miller might be available. In terms of retired players, Charles Barkley can be someone that can mentor Noel and Okafor, as he has a connection with the Sixers and is an NBA legend that the kids look up to.
Is there a chance for Jahlil Okafor now that Coach K has stepped up and vouched for him?
[Featured Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]