Another former player is eyeing a comeback to the NBA.
In the past couple of weeks, news of former NBA players working on making it back to the league have surfaced. From household names like Ray Allen and Carlos Boozer, before he decided to play in China instead, to the more surprising ones likes Von Wafer and Flip Murray, we can now add the 2nd overall pick in the 2004 draft to the list, Emeka Okafor.
The UConn product last played in the 2012-2013 season and is looking to join a contender this coming December or January. In a recent interview by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan with Okafor’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, he admitted that his client is still in the process of working on his conditioning, but will be ready by then:
“He’s been working hard rehabbing. For some guys that means one thing. To Emeka, who understands his body as well or better than some trainers that have worked with him, it means something else. He’s healthy. He feels great, but he’s a perfectionist, and he wants everything to be right.”
MacMullan also got to ask Okafor’s college coach, Jim Calhoun, about the 33-year-old’s decision to make a comeback and what this means to him not only as a player but as a person:
“He’s not going to make a decision based on money, he doesn’t need it. This is a kid who graduated with a 3.9 GPA. He wants to play a couple more years then go to business school at Harvard. He’s only going to play for a contending team.”
“He’s in great shape. He had offers last season from teams for $6-7 million to play just a portion of the season, but you have to know Emeka. He’s only coming back when he feels the time is right.”
The 6’10” center and nine-year veteran has played for three teams, the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats, and New Orleans Hornets. He owns solid career averages of 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in 31.7 minutes per game.
If he can get his conditioning back and hold his own in possible workouts with contending teams, he can be the low-risk, high-reward player that such teams look for, especially because he’ll definitely settle for the veteran’s minimum.
But the most important thing he can offer is his veteran leadership and mentoring skills to the younger players.