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The Philadelphia 76ers have brought 36-year-old Elton Brand out of retirement. The former No.1 overall pick spent five years with the Sixers from 2008-13 and referred to Philly as his adopted hometown in the statement below.
However, the Sixers are making some big moves to get the right people in their organization. Brand is a true professional and he seems excited to mentor Jahlil Okafor as well as other young players on the roster. Via The Cauldron:
I know what you’re thinking.
Dude, you’ve made over $167 million in your career.
You’re not a good player anymore. No one wanted to sign you.
What possible reason could you have for joining the Sixers, a team with a 3–33 record?!
The truth is, my decision to return to the NBA isn’t about money, and it isn’t about rings. It isn’t even about me, really, although every athlete would like to go out on his or her own terms. It’s about repaying what’s owed, about making sure that the young men who follow in my footsteps get what they’re entitled to (and what I haven’t always given them).
It’s not so much that I failed the guys I was tasked with mentoring over the years; it’s that I barely even tried. I never took the time to share the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s writing with them. I never sincerely answered their questions about what David West was trying to warn them about during NBPA meetings. I didn’t tell them why they should be reading Etan Thomas’ essays.
I was simply too busy following the NBA blueprint that had been engrained in me from the beginning: Play well, keep your head down, offend as few people as possible, and get paid. Now, here in Philadelphia, my adopted hometown, I’m excited to have a chance to do things differently — be a positive influence and help the organization get back on track.
You might’ve noticed we’ve got a pretty talented kid on the roster in Jahlil Okafor, someone I happen to share some things in common with. Despite how he’s been portrayed, I know Jahlil. He’s a good kid with a good heart. He’s not unlike most 20-year-olds you probably know, and he’s definitely not at all different than most of his fellow players. Hell, if camera phones were around when Brad Miller, Ron Artest, and I were Jahlil’s age, we might’ve been banned from the league altogether, never mind suspended for a few games.
I’m not coming here to hold Jahlil’s hand — or anyone else’s, for that matter — because that’s not what he needs. But I do believe my experience and wisdom can benefit him and my other young teammates. It’s about communicating with them like men, starting to grow together, and — hopefully, eventually — winning some ballgames. That’s what Sam Hinkie and I talked about when he approached me about joining the team, and what has me so excited about this opportunity.