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Brett Brown Comments on Jahlil Okafor, 76ers' Losing Record

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2015

Nov 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) warms up before the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It's clear the Philadelphia 76ers have a Jahlil Okafor problem. The rookie center has spent his early NBA career racking up a disconcerting number of off-court transgressions, ranging from extreme speeding to fighting in the streets of Boston.  

When asked why Okafor, who had never been in trouble off the floor prior to his NBA arrival, was having such trouble, Sixers head coach Brett Brown told The Dan Patrick Show the team's losing record has undoubtedly been a culprit.     

"I think we'd all be naive to think that it doesn't have some level of effect," Brown said (h/t William Lou of the Score). "He has been used to winning. He is one of the major faces of the program. He is a prideful young man. You add it all up—not to make excuses—just out of fairness and reality, I believe a portion of it has impacted that mindset."

The Sixers opened the 2015-16 season with 18 consecutive losses, tying an NBA record. Their 28 straight defeats dating back to last season set a record for the longest such streak in the United States' four major professional sports.

Okafor has been a bright spot for the Sixers, averaging 17.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. However, while he's continued to be a strong Rookie of the Year contender, it hasn't translated to the scoreboard success he's accustomed to.

The Sixers have already lost nearly five times as much in a month as Okafor did his entire season at Duke. Couple that with Okafor's history of winning championships in high school, and it's been a tough adjustment.

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That's nonetheless no excuse for Okafor's actions, which he acknowledged in a series of tweets earlier this week:

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 .I own my choices both personally and now publicly. At this point I am cooperating and respecting the process I have to go through. Going forward I don't want to be a distraction for my team and am grateful for the support and guidance those close to me are giving. I am 100% focused on my responsibility to the League, my teammates and fans.

ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported the Sixers have assigned security for Okafor when he goes out from now on. Brown also indicated the situation has forced the organization to perhaps put a higher emphasis on culture. 

"This incident has forced everybody to look at it a little bit closer," Brown said to Dan Patrick. "I think the realization that we have to really create an environment that's a lot different—this is not a typical NBA job we have here. "

Hopefully, all the public attention and work the Sixers are doing behind the scenes get Okafor on the right path. Otherwise, the situation will become just another headache in an increasingly tumultuous rebuilding effort in Philadelphia.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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