DURHAM, N.C. — Jahlil Okafor has spent the bulk of the last week making headlines, only they’re not for his Rookie of the Year caliber season or the fact that the Sixers somehow actually won a game.
Okafor was caught on film reportedly getting in a street fight where he appeared to knock two different men out cold. He was also caught going 108 MPH on a bridge in Philadelphia and, reportedly, was involved in another physical altercation after a Sixers game that resulted in a gun being pulled on him. He reportedly got caught using a fake I.D.
On Wednesday night after the Blue Devils knocked off Indiana at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Mike Krzyzewski had strong words to say in support of his former super star.
“Jah’s one of the great kids ever,” Coach K said. “Ever ever ever. You get into some situations. He needs to move on. He also needs to have security. When we’re with the US team, we have security for everybody. All those guys are targets. You’ve got to be smart about that. He was not. He apologized.”
“Anybody who pictures that kid as a bad kid, you gotta be kidding me,” he added. “He’s one of the most loving, good kids that has ever been on this earth. He did a couple stupid throngs. Knock him. Suspend him. And move on. Don’t characterize him as that.”
“He is NOT that. He is a special, special human being.”
My two cents: You can’t defend some of the choices that Jahlil Okafor has made. He knocked two dudes out in the street when he was drunk. He has to pay for that and, undoubtedly, he will, be it in the court of law or with a fat check.
But I’m not going to sit here and crush a 19-year old for getting drunk underage, for getting into s dumb fight over a stupid drunken argument, for driving faster than he should. I did most/all of those things in my younger days.
He needs to grow. He needs to learn. And he will, or he’s going to see his career take an irrevocable turn.
But none of that means that he’s this horrible person as long as he recognizes what he’s doing wrong and changes that behavior.