76ers’ Jahlil Okafor remains hopeful for quick resolution

iI had the pleasure of watching this kid for two seasons as he excelled at Whitney Young High School here in Chicago.  Jahlil Okafor is a winner, a rare talent, and he has exhibited great patience as career in the NBA has stalled in the hands of Philadelphia 76ers front office. The recognitions speak for themselves.

  • Chicago Sun-Times Basketball Player of the Year as a junior.
  • Illinois Class 4A State Champion as a senior.
  • 2014 Mr. Illinois Basketball
  • McDonald’s High School All-American (Co-MVP)
  • Jordan Brand Classic All-American (Co-MVP)
  • 2015 ACC Player of the Year (Duke)
  • 2015 United States Basketball Writers Association Freshman of the Year
  • 2015 Consensus 1st Team All-American
  • 2015 NCAA Champion (Duke)
  • 2016 NBA All-Rookie 1st Team

This is all before dropping 20lbs and regaining full health after undergoing knee surgery at the end of the last NBA season.  His resilience has helped him overcome the passing of his mother and I really hope his determination never wavers.  The potential is undeniable.  Here is a web article featuring his story about overcoming tragedy and below is a new ESPN article by Adrian Wojnarowski regarding the conundrum in Philly. As a resident Chicagoan, avid Duke fan, and proponent for deserved opportunity, I am surely rooting for this kid and I believe his future is bright!

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Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor‘s strange story drags on, but nothing changes. Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo makes rounds upon rounds of futile trade calls. Out of respect, coach Brett Brown refuses to insert Okafor into the garbage minutes of blowouts.

Time passes and Okafor waits.

He isn’t a part of the franchise’s present, nor its future. He was the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft and a member of the first-team All-NBA Rookie team, but that’s disappeared into the distance. The Sixers are undergoing a franchise renaissance, armed with young superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

As for Okafor, he has been cast aside, a casualty of a process that has moved on without him.

“I would like for them to just send me somewhere where I can get an opportunity,” Okafor told ESPN. “I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me and I would just like to get an opportunity to play with a trade or a buyout. I just hope something happens quickly.

“This is my third year in the NBA, and I know it’s a business. I don’t know if it’s fair or not, but in talking to other people in the NBA, talking to retired players, one thing I’ve heard them say is that what’s going on with me isn’t right and they’ve never seen anything like this before.

“I know it’s business, but in my eyes, I don’t know if it’s good business.”

There are legitimate reasons why Colangelo hasn’t found a trade for Okafor. A year ago, those centered on questions about Okafor’s durability and knee surgery to end the 2015-16 season. This season, Okafor returned 20 pounds lighter, fitter and far more deft on his feet.

Colangelo’s asking price has steadily dropped for Okafor, from two first-round picks to a first and a solid player to where it stands now, a second-round pick, league sources said. As for the politics of giving up on the No. 3 overall pick, remember: Colangelo didn’t select Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 draft — his predecessor, Sam Hinkie, did.

“We appreciate the effort that [Okafor] has put forth, and other than a little frustration expressed recently, he’s been patient waiting for an opportunity to play,” Colangelo told ESPN. “I continue to explore opportunities with both Jahlil and [agent] Bill Duffy to find a more suitable spot for him.”

Colangelo resisted any trade proposal that cut into the Sixers’ $15.1 million in salary-cap space prior to Nov. 15, because he planned to use that as part of his contract extension and renegotiation offer to forward Robert Covington. That limited the Sixers to trades that would bring back only the equivalent of Okafor’s $5 million salary, or less.

Once Covington agreed to his deal, the declining of Okafor’s $6.2 million fourth-year contract option for the 2018-19 season further compromised the Sixers’ ability to trade him.

USA Today explores D. Wade’s “World of Wade” Brand by Li Ning

Dwyane Wade has quietly built the most eclectic brand in sports by going his own way

NEW YORK — Dwyane Wade insists this wasn’t all planned. He’s sitting across the table from a display of his wares, the eclectic mix of ties, basketball shoes, socks and leisure wear that he’s created and imprinted as part of his brand. He’s wearing a tailored suit with a bold collar bar that sets everything off. He’s already taken the photo that he’ll later post to Twitter — but not Instagram.

This wasn’t all planned, the 35-year-old says. And how could it be?

But, how couldn’t it be?

The Chicago Bulls guard is sitting in the offices of Rubenstein, the famed New York public relations firm. Wade is the only athlete represented by the firm. He might tell you he didn’t know that, and it might be true.

Wade was the first NBA player to sign with Stance, probably the first ever to sign a sock deal separate from his shoe deal. Not the last. Stance hadn’t even begun to negotiate with the NBA at the time, but it now outfits all 30 teams with their on-court socks. Wade still has his own line with the company. Dress socks, not basketball socks.

They match his ties. That deal is with Tie Bar, where he’s the only athlete with his own line. He’s the only NBA player partnered with Mission apparel, where he is listed second on the brand’s athletes page — behind only a fellow equity partner, the iconic Serena Williams. And the shoes? Those are Li-Ning, the Chinese company that gave Wade enough money and freedom that he left Nike’s Jordan Brand imprint. Ten NBA players wore Li-Ning last season, and seven of them wore Wade’s signature shoes. He also created a capsule collection with designer brand Dsquared2.

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These things weren’t all planned, exactly. Wade wasn’t setting out trying to create a fashion empire, the one that now has been brought together in a partnership with Amazon Fashion. He’s the first athlete to partner with Amazon Fashion in this way, of course. Exclusivity is part of the Wade brand. He’s eschewed many of the normal channels to create a diverse portfolio, emphasizing partnerships over traditional endorsements.

“What you’re trying to do is set up a brand that is lifelong, like Michael Jordan,” Wade says. “Eight years ago — around when I turned 27— I started thinking different. It was crazy because I was right at the height of my career. That’s the prime, that’s it. But at that moment, I started thinking differently. I started thinking about life after. I started thinking about what moves I can make, what positions can I put myself in to give myself an opportunity.”

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Eight years ago was 2009. Wade had led the NBA in scoring, averaging 30.2 points, 7.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocks a game in the best individual season of his career. He also was a year removed from the 2008 Summer Olympics, when he and close friend LeBron James began discussing the partnership that would rock the NBA world in 2010.

This wasn’t all planned, no, but Wade can’t deny the synergy. If he hadn’t won a championship in his third NBA season, would he have been willing to ride shotgun in his eighth? If he hadn’t brought James to Miami, would he have two more rings? If he hadn’t won those three rings, would a respected brand let him design a “Camo Conspiracy” tie?

“Everything has to work perfectly for things to work out,” Wade says. “For me, getting drafted to Miami, a sexy — even though it’s not the biggest — market, everyone knows Miami. Then I’m playing with (Shaquille O’Neal), one of the biggest entrepreneurs and personalities, really has his DNA in everything he’s doing, who I learned from. Everything worked perfectly. It’s all part of the journey.”

So it couldn’t have been planned, not exactly. But Wade took risks — like the chance of losing his “cool factor,” by joining Li-Ning, he says —and positioned himself with these companies in a way that gives him the unique ability to express himself. He’s important to Mission’s “athleisure” brand in a way that he couldn’t be with Nike, important to Stance in a way that he wouldn’t be if he were just joining.

“Dwyane Wade could not be a better partner,” a Stance spokesman wrote in an email statement to For The Win. “No matter the need — an idea, a meeting, a social post, a photoshoot, etc — he can always be counted on, and all of that hard work has played a significant role in Stance’s growth over the past few years.”

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Wade has set himself up for a future that seems to be coming quickly, one where he’s simply not an NBA superstar anymore. He was not selected for the All-Star Game for the first time since his rookie year last season. He is aware that he’s moving closer to retirement than his prime.

Moving his family — Wade’s wife is the accomplished actress Gabrielle Union, and he has three sons and custody of a nephew— back to his hometown of Chicago to show them his roots is all part of this plan. Yet it couldn’t be planned because he never intended to leave the Heat. Family is crucial to Wade, who wrote a book about fatherhood not long after getting custody of his oldest two sons. It’s as much a part of his brand as the Way of Wade sneakers. But the synergy finds its way into those worlds, too — and not simply in how he uses his nephew as a measuring stick for his latest sneaker patterns.

“I’m very open with my kids,” Wade says. “I sat down with my son. My son loves basketball, and he could play basketball, and hopefully for him, his goal and dream becomes a reality and he becomes a basketball player in the NBA. But the thing I told him was, I’m building a brand. And I’m building a Wade brand. So in a sense, I’m building this for you. In a sense, if that day comes in five years, and we’re having that conversation, I already went through all the tough stuff. I’m building it for you to take over. You won’t have to come into it new like the Balls are doing. I’ve already went through 10 years of the bullcrap. So I let him know, I will sign you to a shoe contract if you’re good enough.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVzk_YhA0xJ/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=558#%7B%22ci%22%3A3%2C%22os%22%3A13892.630000000001%7D

On the court, Wade is entering a pivotal season. He opted into the second year of his two-year, $47 million contract despite knowing the Bulls were going through a rebuilding phase. He’ll likely be the only player over 30 on the team, and he may even be waived before the season ends, allowing him to possibly rejoin James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After that, who knows?

Perhaps that’s why he’s chosen to enjoy himself now. He and Union have shown the world their beautiful vacations through social media. He’s cracked wise at former teammates, shut down Twitter trolls and embraced the idea of mentoring the Bulls’ youth. Moments like announcing a partnership with Amazon Fashion feel like a victory lap in the middle of an unfinished race.

“Thumbs up — 27-year-old me would give two thumbs up to 35-year-old me,” Wade says. “You took some risks, you did some things that were unpopular at the time. And maybe in five years, I’ll give it even bigger thumbs up, but I’m definitely happy with me doing it the way I’m going to do it. I got out of line a little bit, and I’m happy with it because it’s me.”

By:  | USA Today | Sports | For the Win | http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/07/dwyane-wade-amazon-fashion-li-ning-shoes-way-of-wade-6-stance-socks-tie-bar-mission | July 12, 2017 1:46 pm

 

EVENT: TPG Sports Group Sports Agent School

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On November 6-7 Chicago hosts Agent School, the premier training ground for anyone interested in professional athlete representation.  The event is perfect for anyone interested in becoming a sports agent and will offer real world experience and networking with the best in the industry.  TPG will bring together the most successful agents, team executives and sports professionals to provide an inside look into the agent industry.

This one of a kind event will present education, advice and information on the inner workings of the sports agent industry. Speakers combine to represent over $1.5 Billion in current and future contracts. Tickets will be released on Thursday, August 13, 2015. To register for the agent school & find out more information visit:

http://tpgsportsgroup.com/events/agent-school/?utm_source=Past+Attendees&utm_campaign=9cb36e3b4e-Agent_School_Release8_10_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1a2b4a57d6-9cb36e3b4e-66924293#tick.