Emeka Okafor Injures Ankle

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

One day after signing a guaranteed $10 million contract over three years, and one hour into Team USA's second practice for the Olympics, Emeka Okafor sprained his ankle during a routine drill. He was taken for precautionary X-rays (negative) and will sit out today's practice as his condition is re-evaluated.

Chairman of the USA Basketball Selection Committee Stu Jackson said they don't have any replacements waiting in the wings. "It would be unfair to the team," said Jackson, "to even speculate on" a possible replacement of Okafor should his injury prove serious.

One other man who doesn't have any replacements waiting in the wings is Bobcats GM and coach Bernie Bickerstaff. The crowning achievement of Charlotte's new basketball team to date has been its move up to the second draft pick position where they were finally able to pick their franchise center and power forward in Okafor. Though the biggest question mark about Okafor had been his back, if he proves unable to play for any health reason it would reflect poorly on the franchise, and it may be dead before it even plays its first game.

Perhaps the biggest discrepancy between what is good for the Bobcats and what is good for Team USA will come now, when Okafor needs to decide if he can play on an injured ankle. If he plays before it's fully healed, he risks becoming the next (and bigger) Grant Hill. If he waits too long, he may be too rusty to be helpful during the Olympics. Given the team's dearth of big men (even Tim Duncan will be playing center), Team USA will be looking to get Okafor back into the fold as soon as possible.

97 days left until the season starts.


The Associated Press write inThe Alameda Times-Star: Emeka Okafor sprained his right ankle Tuesday, and Tim Duncan missed a morning practice because of an upset stomach, depriving the already undersized U.S. Olympic team of two big men on the second day of practice. Okafor landed awkwardly and turned his ankle during a drill about an hour after practice began in Jacksonville, Fla.The ankle did not immediately swell up, and Okafor was taken for precautionary X-rays, which came back negative.

Chris Sheridan of The Associated Press writes inThe Worcester Telegram: Emeka Okafor's sprained ankle and Tim Duncan's absence from a practice put a spotlight on the U.S. Olympic team's lack of frontcourt depth."Yeah, I worry, but hopefully it's not anything real bad," coach Larry Brown said. "If it is, we've got to go to the (selection) pool." X-rays on Okafor's right ankle were negative, and the Charlotte Bobcats rookie was to be re-evaluated Wednesday. He landed awkwardly and turned his ankle during a drill about an hour after practice began during the second day of the training camp.

Lenny Megiola ofThe Metro West Daily Newswrites: While the vast office space has plenty of Celtics' memorabilia, Carr points to one photo of former UConn star Emeka Okafor and says, "That's the most important picture in here."That's because Okafor was the top pick in the NBA draft of the Charlotte Bobcats, an expansion team that Carr has invested in. But this is M.L.'s baby now.