NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 1:31 AM
Jahlil Okafor doesn’t really have a veteran voice of reason in the 76ers’ locker room, but Carmelo Anthony hopes to serve in that role for the troubled rookie.
On the heels of another video showing Okafor knocking a second man unconscious, the Sixers suspended the 19-year-old for two games – including Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks at the Garden – while indicating that he hid this latest embarrassment from the team.
Afterward, Anthony – whose character was called into question early in his career – said he can provide Okafor with perspective to overcome these issues.
“I just know how much a voice can help. In Okafor’s situation, it’s easy for people to kind of turn their backs on him in this moment. Especially with him so young, the team not being successful – them losing games over there,” said Anthony, who asked a reporter for Okafor’s phone number. “There’s probably a lot going through his mind. I would love to talk to him, tell him everything will be all right, just get through this.”
The Sixers have also backed Okafor, calling him “our guy.” But they also finally punished the center following a string of reported incidents involving fights and police.
“The further details that came out surprised me, surprised us,” coach Brett Brown said of the latest video, obtained and released by TMZ. “He told us sketchy that he was in a situation that he regretted. As far as the play-by-play of what happened he did not go into that. (Wednesday) we learned more.”
The video shows Okafor yelling at a man reported to be 27, calling him “a broke a– b—-h.” Okafor then charges him and knocks him out.
This followed another video, reportedly taken the same night (Nov. 25) and in front of the same Boston nightclub, showing Okafor punching somebody else to sleep.
Since being drafted at No. 3 in June, Okafor, according to reports out of Philly, was also caught driving 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge and had a gun pulled on him during an altercation at a separate nightclub.
Okafor has played well in his 19 appearances, but the Sixers stink: they tied the record for the worst start in NBA history before winning their first game Tuesday to improve to 1-18.
“I feel like I’m looking at a 19-year-old kid that has all of a sudden come upon money and has been used to winning, used to being in the limelight,” Brown said of Okafor, who won the national title with Duke last year. “And then all of a sudden when you’ve got a 19-year-old, things like this can happen. And I think that because of the repetitive nature that has happened to Jahlil, that we take it very seriously.”
Anthony’s first years in the league included an infamous “Stop Snitchin” video and a brawl at the Garden where he sucker punched Mardy Collins.
“I had to learn the hard way,” he said. “I had to really figure out that I had control of my own career and which direction I wanted to go in.”