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Sixers wrap practice by singing 'Happy Birthday' to Emeka Okafor

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The Sixers had one more area of business to take care of before practice wrapped.

As the players and coaches gathered on the court, they broke out in a familiar song.

“Happy Birthday to you …”

Emeka Okafor turned 35 on Thursday. 

“The younger guys sing the loudest,” Brett Brown said. “You’re reminded all the time of how much they actually enjoy this part of our program.”

Brown is so into acknowledging birthdays that assistant director of player development Chris Babcock is tasked with reminding him of the dates. 

This is the first time in four years Okafor has been in the NBA on his birthday. He was diagnosed with a herniated C4 cervical disc in September of 2013. Okafor has not played in an NBA game since April of that year. 

“It’s part of the camaraderie,” Okafor said of the celebration. “It’s part of the things I miss from being out here on a team.”  

Even though Okafor is the oldest player on the roster and 15 years older than his youngest teammate, 19-year-old Markelle Fultz, being in training camp has been a trip to the fountain of youth. 

“I’m 35,” Okafor said. “I feel like I’m 25.”