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Despite awkward situation, Jahlil Okafor appreciated Sixers' transparency

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Despite awkward situation, Jahlil Okafor appreciated Sixers' transparency

The Jahlil Okafor saga finally came to an end back in early Decemeber when the Sixers agreed to send the former No. 3 overall pick along with Nik Stauskas to the Brooklyn Nets.

Jah's journey in Philadelphia was a strange one with a rather rapid decline from being a highly-touted player when drafted to a guy who couldn't even get on the court in recent years.

It was ... awkward.

Okafor calls it just that in a piece he penned today for the Players' Tribune oddly titled, "Jahlil Okafor Should Be On Your Radar RIGHT NOW!!!" -- a nod to his dad's aggressive promotion of Jah his entire life.

The big man says... a lot.

The piece is rather longwinded. He dealt with loss early in his life and turned to basketball. His favorite movie was Air Bud. But it's his comments on his time with Philly that we found most relevant.

Jah has positive words for his former teammates and even the Sixers' front office who was transparent with him about their plans. He also realized his game needed work:

As a player, I recognized some key areas in my game that needed work. One, I’ve gotta improve on defense — improve both my physical quickness and my mental discipline. Two, I have to rebound better — maintain smarter positioning, be more aggressive on the jump. And three, I want to be the type of player who makes his teammates better — whether that’s by gaining confidence as a passer, or getting more comfortable spacing the floor, or even just being a supportive guy in the huddle. I’ve been working hard, and I’ll continue to work hard, to make those things happen.

By all accounts, Jah handled himself well in a tough situation in Philly. And you have to respect his professionalism even more when you read him tell how hard it was for him.

Another big thing for me, as all the trade stuff was going down, was that I really didn’t want to be a cancer. Didn’t want to be a distraction. Which is why I tried my best to just sort of stay out the way. But honestly, I mean, no matter how hard you try — a situation like that? It’s going to be awkward. There’s just no way around it.

Those guys, they’re getting hyped up to play some big nationally televised game. And I’m sitting there in a suit … dying inside. Dying to throw a jersey on. Dying to lace up a pair. Dying to have a basketball back in my hands. Because all of these years later, still, being on that court playing ball … whether it’s our driveway in Oklahoma, or the open gym at Rosemont Elementary, or an NBA arena … that’s still my sanctuary. Ever since I was nine years old, you know, that’s … where I go.

Not many of us can relate to what it's like going from a star at Duke that turns into a lottery pick to a guy who can't even get into a game early in his career. I respect the way Okafor handled things then and how he explains them now.

And how he writes about Philadelphia will make you want to pull for him in Brooklyn as well:

And at the end of the day, I love all those guys on the Sixers, too. Those guys in that locker room … they’re my brothers. They’ve worked so hard to get to where they are now, and I wish them nothing but the best. I mean, even the Sixers front office, all love to them, because they were transparent with me the whole while — and that’s really about all you can ask for in this business. All love to everyone in Philly, forever.

After a string of nine DNPs for the Nets, Okafor had his best game of his short time there on Saturday, finishing with 12 points, 5 boards, and 2 blocks in just under 13 minutes of play. Maybe things will finally start to look up for Jah. Hopefully he can stay in his happy place on the basketball court.

The Roots rocked, peak Pederson, and marvelous Merrill

The Roots rocked, peak Pederson, and marvelous Merrill

The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.

Again, that's really fun to type. And there was so much fun to be had on Sunday when the Birds beat up on the Vikings to win the NFC Championship.

In the spirit of truly having a blast watching yesterday's game and partying on Broad Street after, here's some of the killer content the Eagles shared on their social media. Their social team was as red hot as Nick Foles. Tough to beat good access. This stuff is just fun to relive.

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Doug Pederson's postgame speech. The look on his face after he says it! Goosebumps.

The Roots! Many fans at home were bummed that the FOX telecast did not show The Roots halftime performance. Thankfully, you can watch it in full below. It ends with a fantastic rendition of the Eagles' fight song.

The Merrill Reese Cam. Needs no description.

Nick Foles just one more thing Chip Kelly got wrong

Nick Foles just one more thing Chip Kelly got wrong

Imagine having ever doubted Nick Foles. Well, OK, that puts you in a group with roughly 99 percent of the general public. But imagine having ever traded Foles away, thinking he wasn’t good enough to get the Eagles to the Super Bowl.

There are a select few talent evaluators on the face of this earth who have gone so far as to actually get rid of Foles, and just one man who swapped him for another quarterback. Take a bow, Chip Kelly. Your brief tenure as coach of the Eagles and even briefer stint as personnel czar only continue to look worse with time.

It’s not news Kelly was a failure as an NFL head coach or that his one year as the Eagles’ general manager was disastrous. Fans had to relive one mistake after another as vice president of football operations Howie Roseman spent the last two years undoing the damage, move by move.

Yet, little else was thought of Kelly’s call to send Foles packing, until now. To the contrary, it was one of the few decisions where the disgraced coach appeared justified. It took Foles less than one season to flame out with the Rams and wind up a journeyman backup. Anybody who thought it might be a bad idea at the time had no room to talk.

Now that Foles has done his part to guide the Eagles to a conference championship, it’s time to revisit that decision. And at the time Kelly traded Foles, he had a 14-4 record in his previous 18 starts. He had set an NFL record with a 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013 (since broken by Tom Brady). He walked off the field with the lead in a wild-card playoff game.

Maybe Foles was a victim of playing behind a patchwork offensive line in 2014 when he turned the ball over 13 times in eight games and suffered a season-ending injury. Maybe he seemed like a flash in the pan with the Rams because there was no talent around him in an offense that finished no better than 21st in the league from 2007 to 2016.

Maybe Foles has been pretty good all along, and Kelly and all the doubters were simply wrong. Actually, that’s a fact.

Not only did Kelly send Foles packing, he dealt him for Sam Bradford, who, ironically, was sitting on the opposite sideline in the NFC Championship Game. Bradford may, in fact, be more talented but was coming off consecutive ACL tears and hadn’t played competitive football in nearly two years. Bradford, who was on the Vikings’ sideline because he got hurt again.

It wasn’t even Foles for Bradford straight-up. Kelly agreed to send second- and fourth-round draft picks in the deal, too, getting only a fifth in return. Like almost all of his moves, this has not aged well.

Kelly traded a potential franchise quarterback, a guy who had won him a lot of games, who looked like he could win in the postseason. A perfectly safe, reliable option, if not exactly oozing greatness — all for a glorified lottery ticket.

Bradford was fine. If he could stay healthy, he would probably prove, like Foles, he never had a shot while playing for those awful Rams teams.

But was Bradford worth the gamble? Opinions were mixed at the time, but that’s because, like Kelly, there were a lot of folks who were ready to give up on Foles. Three years later, it was just one more needless, horrendous decision.

Fortunately, the universe has a way of correcting itself sometimes. Or maybe that’s just Roseman hard at work, the other enormous mistake in Kelly’s NFL tenure that went largely glossed over. Whatever. The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl, with Foles at the helm, and Kelly is back to coaching college football — which is the way it always should’ve been.