It’s one thing for the 76ers to accept the barbs and criticisms for the execution of “the process.”
But in order for the extreme makeover plan of rebuilding the franchise to work, it has to be constructed on a solid foundation and that’s where the recent escapades of 19-year-old rookie Jahlil Okafor put everything on shaky ground.
With the release by TMZ of another video showing Okafor in a second fight early on Thanksgiving morning in Boston and also reports of earlier incidents in Philadelphia, the team decided it was time for more than a scolding. The Sixers suspended Okafor for two games, according to a statement released by the club:
We have made the determination to suspend Jahlil Okafor for two games, effective immediately.
Jahlil is a very important part of our organization and our future. While we are disappointed with his recent actions, we have faith in him as a valued member of the Sixers. We will provide the necessary resources to support him on his journey and will do our part to help him succeed both on and off the court.
Okafor appeared and sounded properly contrite and remorseful after the first video turned up last week. He said it was a case of bad judgment and it would not happen again.
However, from all the reports that have surfaced since the initial apology, it would seem that it was the continuation of horrible judgment and just plain poor behavior by Okafor for several months.
The Sixers had previously said they were assigning a security guard to accompany Okafor at all times, but had held back on a punishment. Now though the club is likely looking at a bigger picture, one has become a huge public relations black eye. As the team continues to move ahead with a roster filled with very young players — and plans to add more — the image of a loss of control by their top rookie and systemic collapse from within the locker room made it time for the suspension.