76ers coach Brett Brown said that the organization had to show “tough love” and suspended rookie Jahlil Okafor for two games for recent “dramatic” and “repetitive” off-court actions.
Okafor, 19, reportedly had a gun pulled on him outside a Philadelphia night club, was pulled over for driving 108 miles per hour and got into a fight outside a Boston bar last week.
But TMZ.com revealed footage Wednesday of Okafor getting into a second fight in Boston. That’s when the Sixers decided to take action and suspended the No. 3 pick out of Duke, beginning with Wednesday night’s game against the Knicks.
“The news that came out today and trying to judge it in its totality, the club felt like this was the thing that we could do two-fold,” Brown said. “We show him tough love that we understand he’s ours. We have to help him and help him we will.”
Brown said Okafor told him about the first fight in Boston but not the second, and that it “surprised me and surprised us.” Brown met with Okafor in his hotel room Wednesday afternoon to discuss the new details.
“He told us sketchy that he was in a situation that he regretted,” Brown said. “Today we learned more. When I spent time with Jahlil in his room, he’s ashamed, he’s embarrassed. And this has caught him off guard . . . He has made a mistake. And nobody’s denying it. Nobody’s hiding from it.”
Brown said the Sixers are working in “partnership” with the NBA, Okafor, his family and his representatives.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” he said. “It needs to be, it’s serious. And the parties that are involved are the parties that need to be involved. Nobody is taking this anything else but extremely serious.
Okafor went from a National Championship team to one of the worst in NBA history. The Sixers lost their first 18 games this season. Brown believes everything coming to light ultimately will help Okafor.
“If it’s all going to come out and it’s going to hit him hard and because of the repetitive instances that are now being revealed that it’s that dramatic, then I think this is a good thing,” Brown said. “I think that if lessons are to be learned and this 19-year-old young man has to learn the responsibility of wearing a 76er uniform and carrying an NBA logo, and it has to be done in the magnitude, in the national media spotlight as it has been delivered, to make our point, then I say that’s not a bad thing, let’s make our point.
“It is hard love, there have been mistakes that have been made. He does own it. And nobody is proud of this right now. So we will support him, he is ours and we will move on.”