SOURCES: Okafor stopped for driving 108 MPH
Jahlil Okafor's experiences off the court have been far from stellar.
MEMPHIS - On the court, Jahlil Okafor had arguably the best start of any Eastern Conference rookie.
However, his experiences off the court have been far from stellar.
Four sources independently confirmed to The Inquirer that the 76ers center was pulled over on the Ben Franklin Bridge about three weeks ago for driving 108 m.p.h. The normal speed limit on the bridge is 45 m.p.h.
The Sixers did not deny The Inquirer's report.
The news came days after it was revealed that Okafor had been involved in two altercations while leaving nightclubs.
The 6-foot-11, 265-pounder had a gun pointed at his head on Oct. 4 near Second and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia, five people told The Inquirer. Then there was Thursday's early-morning fight outside of Storyville Nightclub in Boston's Back Bay caught on video hours after Wednesday night's loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
"I'm not talking about anything but basketball," Okafor said before Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. "I already made my statement."
The rookie of the year candidate was referring to a series of tweets sent a couple of hours before the game.
"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," he tweeted. "I own my choices both personally and now publicly. At this point I am cooperating and respecting the process I have to go through."
Okafor, who was averaging a rookie-leading 18 points coming into the game, added he doesn't want to be a distraction moving forward for the Sixers. The third overall pick out of Duke also said he's grateful for the support and guidance he's receiving from people close to him.
He ended the series of tweets by saying, "I am 100% focused on my responsibility to the League, my teammates and fans."
Sixers coach Brett Brown was unsure Sunday whether Okafor will have to serve a suspension for his transgressions. However, he said: "As an organization, anything like this is concerning."
"It's like any 19-year-old kid," Brown said. "You are trying to find ways to help him.
"He's knows he's made mistakes, and we know he's made mistakes. As an organization we will deal with them as we need to and should."
Okafor is likable, and everyone in the Sixers' organization says he is great to be around.
However, the recent incidents show there is a pattern that needs to be changed.
In a video obtained and published by TMZ.com, Okafor is seen shouting at several individuals before shoving a man to the ground early Thursday in the Boston incident. He then punched a man who appeared to be the same person he had pushed, knocking that individual to the pavement. Okafor could be heard shouting, "We got money, you broke-ass . . ." He then uttered a racial slur.
He said the incident started because he and teammate Christian Wood were being heckled by Boston fans over the Sixers' struggles.
However, according to the police report, an alleged male victim told police on Friday that he was assaulted outside the Storyville club. The alleged victim said two men approached him and his friends and tried to get phone numbers from several women. The alleged victim believed Okafor to be one of the men. A "verbal dispute" turned violent.
At a Philadelphia club in October, sources said, Okafor exchanged words with a heckler while with teammates. As he and his teammates left the club, a source said, the heckler pointed a gun to Okafor's head after he left the club.
"It's part of our responsibility to help him," Brown said. "The fact that it has been multiple instances is bothersome. He's aware of it."
One thing the Sixers won't do is change how they monitor their players. Despite being a young squad, it does not have a curfew.
Brown said there's a protocol in place to deal with disciplinary issues or tardiness. In the past, players have been fined for those infractions. The Sixers have also said they will work with the NBA for a suitable in-house punishment for Okafor once all the facts come out in the Boston case.
"To think that you are going to build the program that we have built that is dominated by 19- and 20-year-old kids and for there not to be problem is very, very, very naive," Brown said.
The coach also added the team is aware of the challenges that come with coaching a team without veteran leaders.
"It's day-to-day challenging, especially with the abundance of money and freedom," Brown said. "That's something we are acutely aware of, and I feel that we are proud of the infrastructure that we have built."
The Sixers' lone veteran presence is ninth-year forward Carl Landry. Because he will be sidelined until January, the 32-year-old really hasn't had a presence on the team, whose second-oldest player is 24.
Okafor said he does have a few veterans around the league to call upon. The standout was asked whether he wants a veteran to help him take the proper off-the-court steps.
"That might help, yeah," he said.