Nothing good ever happens after midnight. Nothing good ever happens after midnight. Nothing good ever happens after midnight. The saying isn’t actually true—many of the best things happen after midnight, in fact—but it’s a mantra Jahlil Okafor would’ve done well to internalize over the past two months, as it seems each day brings a new transgression of his to light.
We already know that he was involved in a fight outside of a Boston bar the night before Thanksgiving, for which he is being investigated for assault. There are also reports that an altercation outside of a Philly nightclub last month resulted in somebody pulling a gun on Okafor. But there’s more.
On Friday Philadelphia’s Fox affiliate reported that Okafor was pulled over for speeding 108 MPH across the Ben Franklin Bridge, 63 MPH faster than the speed limit. CSN Philly added that the incident occurred on Oct. 19, and that Okafor was cited for both “reckless driving” and “driving an an [sic] excessive rate of speed.”
With the bad publicity mounting, yesterday Okafor tweeted out a milquetoast statement:
I hold myself to a higher standard than anyone else ever could and I’m not proud of some of my decisions over the last few months. I own my choices both personally and now publicly. At this point I am cooperating and respecting the process I have to go through. Going forward I don’t want to be a distraction for my team and am grateful for the support and guidance those close to me are giving. I am 100% focused on my responsibility to the League, my teammates and fans.
Okafor isn’t quite done owning his choices publicly though (and refusing to talk to reporters about them doesn’t seem like owning them, but I digress), because another one of them came out today. According to CSN Philly, in October Okafor was shutdown when trying to get into a bar with a fake ID:
Okafor allegedly presented a fake I.D. at Misconduct Tavern in Center City, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. Okafor, 19, was refused service, the sources said. One of the sources said he was surprised because Okafor is “a big guy” and “famous” and “pretty easy to recognize.”
Far be it from me—somebody who lives in a glass house made up of all the dumb drunk shit I did when I was 19—to criticize Okafor, but this pattern of behavior is concerning! Not the fake ID thing, that’s mostly just funny, but the rest of it. Getting popped speeding 108 in a 45 isn’t just driving fast, it’s legitimately dangerous and reckless. And a guy who can’t legally drink alcohol getting into fights outside of bars in consecutive months suggests some sort of problem with alcohol, with anger, with talking to people. It’s the behavior of somebody who hates his miserable job at his miserable, unsuccessful company.
While on the court, Okafor has done nothing yet to suggest that he won’t deliver on the considerable promise that led the 76ers to draft him with third overall pick in the draft. But the season is young, and as his off the court issues stack up they threaten to topple over onto him, showcasing one of the many downsides with trusting The Process™. The 76ers aren’t the first team to pin their hopes on rookies becoming superstars, but they are the first team to put all their eggs into that basket.
Whether’s it’s Joel Embiid’s recurring injuries and Shirley Temple fixation, Dario Šarić continuing to chill in Turkey, or Okafor repeatedly getting into trouble at bars, the 76ers’ struggles reiterate how notoriously difficult it is to predict 19-year-old basketball players’s development paths. That’s why the other 29 teams in the NBA attempt to draft well AND sign well AND trade well, and don’t intentionally kneecap themselves by land mining two of the three possible team-building routes.
Screenshot via CSN Philly