The apparent altercation between Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor and a heckler outside a Boston nightclub early Thursday was evidently not the only such recent incident involving the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. According to multiple reports, a similar public confrontation — one that could have had disastrous consequences for the 6-foot-11, 275-pound Okafor — unfolded last month.
According to five sources who spoke to The Inquirer independently on condition of anonymity, Thursday morning's incident in Boston was not the first time Okafor has been in an altercation with a heckler while out and about.
At a Philadelphia club in October, sources said that 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 outside the establishment.
John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com offered more details Friday evening:
The 19-year-old Sixers’ rookie was outside an Old City nightclub after 2 a.m. on Oct. 4 when he and another person began arguing with two men sitting in a parked car near the corner of 2nd and Walnut Streets, according to a witness. The verbal disagreement escalated and a witness said he saw Okafor try to punch the driver through the open driver’s side window. During the altercation, the driver and passenger exited the car and the passenger pointed a gun in the direction of Okafor and his associate, per the witness.
U.S. Park Rangers — who patrol nearby Independence Hall — arrived on the scene during the altercation, according to separate reports filed by the U.S. Park Rangers and the Philadelphia Police Department and obtained by CSNPhilly.com. The man who exited the passenger side of the car fled on foot and appeared to toss his gun, per multiple witnesses. According to the police report, the driver got into a black Camaro with red stripes and sped off. The car was not stopped.
According to the police report, a U.S. Park Ranger chased the unidentified passenger on foot but lost him when the man ducked into the garage at the nearby Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel at One Dock Street. The report also indicated that police and K-9 units “swept the parking garage and first floor of the hotel with negative results.” Hotel surveillance video revealed the man never entered the hotel from the garage.
A law enforcement source told CSNPhilly.com that a gun magazine was recovered near the scene and submitted for fingerprint analysis. The law enforcement source said the investigation is ongoing.
Okafor said Friday that he's "not allowed to talk about that incident." He scored 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting with six rebounds, two assists and one steal in 27 minutes of playing time in Philadelphia's 116-114 loss to the Houston Rockets, the Sixers' record-setting 27th consecutive regular-season defeat.
Boston police announced Friday that they are investigating Okafor's alleged altercation with a heckler following Philadelphia's Wednesday loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, according to Felicia Gans of the Boston Globe:
The victim of the alleged assault told police on Friday that Jahlil Okafor, a center for the 76ers, began pushing and punching him after the two men had a verbal altercation outside the club at 90 Exeter St., police said.
Okafor, 19, allegedly punched the man and knocked him to the ground, police said. The victim told officers he suffered a cut above his eye that required stitches.
"The man told police that the fight broke out after some of his female friends refused the advances of two other men, including one believed to be Okafor," according to The Associated Press.
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Before Friday's meeting with the Rockets, Okafor addressed the media about the Boston incident, according to Joshua Koch of the AP:
"It was definitely dumb on my part," Okafor said following a shootaround Friday, several hours before the Houston Rockets were scheduled to host the Sixers. "Something I'm embarrassed about. Still dealing with the league and the team but I'm not happy about it all. We're still going through the process of what we're going to do." [...]
The 76ers recently discussed how to handle these kinds of situations, with [head coach Brett] Brown and team staff showing videos and saying that when out after 3 a.m., nothing good happens. [...]
"Jahlil knows if he had to [tell him about an altercation] again he would walk," [Brown] said. ''It's an unfortunate thing. As coach of the team, it's part of one of the many layers you have to do to coach young people." [...]
"I'm ashamed with what I did and that's not who I am," he said. "Everybody that reached out to me that's in my circle they know that's not who I am. So I have a great support system and they will continue to support me."
No charges have yet been filed in either incident involving Okafor. The 76ers have said they are aware of both ongoing investigations and have declined further official comment pending their resolution.
Okafor is averaging 18 points per game, leading both the 76ers and all rookies, to go with 7.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 assists in 33.1 minutes per contest. He will turn 20 years old on Dec. 15.
"He's going to have to, like all of us, navigate through NBA worlds and NBA environments with a level of responsibility," Brown said Friday, according to Pompey of the Inquirer.
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