The Philadelphia 76ers have issued a training-camp invite to veteran center Emeka Okafor. In Philly he will join his distant cousin and fellow center, Jahlil Okafor, to assemble the tallest, greatest, and only pair of oft-injured basketball centers named “Okafor” in the history of the world.
Emeka Okafor, who will turn 35 on Thursday, last played in the NBA for the Washington Wizards, in April of 2013; the Wizards traded him to Phoenix over the following summer, but a neck injury, discovered that September, has kept him out of the league ever since. Prior to that, he was a solid defender and rim protector and not much else; although he’d developed the ability to knock in the occasional foul-line jumper by the end of his Wizards tenure, he was still a pretty bad offensive player. Jahlil Okafor, for his part, is a skilled low-post scorer who plays no defense whatsoever and has struggled with lower-body injuries during his two professional seasons. The two Okafors, between them, possess almost all the skills a modern starting NBA center must have, plus at least 40 percent of a working skeleton. If the plan is to somehow fuse them into one person, I am extremely into it. On the other hand, if the plan is to have somebody with extensive experience in being too injured to play NBA basketball come in and tutor Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid on how to shop for very large suits, that is a little more depressing but also fine.
In all seriousness, I can’t see this making much of a difference whatsoever for the Sixers. Obviously this extremely old dude with a busted neck will not still be on the roster when the regular season begins, because the Sixers already have like 31 guys filling the “oft-injured center” role. To be honest, the only reason I blogged it at all is to lay the groundwork for an eventual “Sixers Release Okafor” headline that will cause the team’s fans to panic for exactly two seconds.