WILDWOOD CREST, N.J. — There will be no cheesesteaks for Jahlil Okafor.
This summer, Okafor has been focusing on his health, and that goes beyond his rehabbing right knee. He has made a serious commitment to his diet, too, by going “mostly vegan.”
The results are noticeable. The 6-foot-11 Okafor is down to 258 pounds, 20 pounds less than his weight entering training camp last year.
“I’ve cut out dairy, so that’s cheese, chocolate, stuff like that,” Okafor said Thursday at the Sixers' Shore Tour in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. “But every now and then I still might eat some fish.”
Okafor changed how he starts his day. Now, his uncle prepares a meal out of a vegan cookbook for him each morning. Okafor likes the recipe options so he doesn’t “get bored going vegan.”
“I feel lighter, I feel great,” he said. “I’ve been taking my body seriously, my health seriously, what I eat very seriously. So I think it’s going to pay off.”
Okafor is hoping for a healthy NBA season after his first two were cut short by injuries. He underwent season-ending right knee surgery his rookie year and missed the last 11 games of last season because of right knee soreness.
Okafor said he currently does not have any basketball-activity restrictions and can play 5-on-5. His goal is to stay on the court for his third season.
“Just being able to hopefully play 82 games, just the experience that comes along with that,” he said. “[I] hope I can get into some type of groove.”
A groove has been hard to find for Okafor. Last season, he faced trade talks and inconsistent playing time. His role varied from a starter to backup to not playing at all. This season, the Sixers once again have to sort out their frontcourt. Richaun Holmes has made a case for playing time, and the team added veteran Amir Johnson over the summer.
“I’m not sure [of my role],” Okafor said. “We haven’t had all the guys together yet. ... When we all start training camp, we’ll all figure that out."
In the meantime, Okafor will continue to follow his disciplined offseason changes in preparation for what could be a turnaround year for the Sixers.
"I think it’s going to be a lot of fun," Okafor said of the upcoming season. "I don’t want to put anything out there what we’re going to do, but we have a lot of talent. We have to stay healthy and be patient. Everything’s not going to happen all at once, but we have all the pieces in order to do that."