Is Jahlil Okafor the ‘best’ player ever from Chicago?

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A father has every right to be proud of his son, especially when his name is Jahlil Okafor. The Whitney Young grad led Duke to the National Championship this week and declared for the NBA Draft.

TMZ Sports caught up with Chukwudi Okafor, who gave the news organization this exclusive about Jahlil’s place in Chicago basketball: “My son’s absolutely the most decorated player ever from the city. Not many people can say that. Actually, not one other person can say that.”


The TMZ headline read: “Jahlil Okafor GREATEST CHICAGO HOOPER EVER … says dad”

Well, that’s not really what his father said, but we know what they mean. Just as we know what they mean by “hooper” and not “hoopster.”

It’s probably too early in his career to debate “greatest Chicago” player, but let’s take a closer look at “most decorated player ever.”

At 19, Okafor has an IHSA championship, NCAA title, multiple high school player of the year awards, McDonald’s and Jordan all-star game MVPs, a first-team NCAA all-America honor and three FIBA championships. He was not college player of the year; that went to Frank Kaminsky of Lisle, a suburb just outside of Chicago. Okafor will likely be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Pretty solid.

It would be tough for anyone to match that, right?

What about Jabari Parker?

The four-time high school champion from Simeon, also won high school player of the year honors, was a Jordan game MVP, an NCAA all-America, National Freshman of the Year, has two FIBA gold medals and was the second pick of the NBA Draft. Not shabby.

Anthony Davis? A relative unknown, shot up the ranks of recruiting lists as he grew at Perspectives Charter High School. Won pretty much every award there was to win in his one year at Kentucky, including an NCAA Championship and tournament’s outstanding player. Add to that an Olympic and World Cup gold medals. Already a two-time NBA all-star in this third year, he’s a sure-fire MVP soon.

Derrick Rose? The two-time high school champion at Simeon came up a free-throw short of winning the NCAA Championship. He was a first-team NCAA all-America. He has two gold medals in FIBA World Cup play. Oh, and there was that 2011 NBA MVP.

Dwyane Wade? Well, he didn’t really do much at Richards, but he came on strong at Marquette, making third-team all-America. Then, he added 11 NBA all-star appearances, three NBA Championships, an NBA Championship MVP and an Olympic Gold Medal.

We will leave Kevin Garnett out of the discussion because he played just one season in Chicago at Farragut.

Isiah Thomas? The St. Joseph guard never won a high school title, and still regrets it. He did, however, win NCAA, NBA and Pan American championships. Toss in the NCAA Tournament outstanding player, 12 NBA all-star appearances, two NBA all-star MVPs, one NBA Finals MVP and a member of the NBA’s 50th anniversary team. He’s also in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Should we go on? Let’s.

Mark Aguirre? The Westinghouse star never won a high school championship, but he did win several college player of the year awards while at DePaul. Aquirre was the No. 1 pick of the 1981 NBA Draft. He made three all-star teams and won two championships in the NBA.

Quinn Buckner? Some still consider him the greatest high school player in Illinois. After winning two state titles at Thornridge, Buckner went on to win an NCAA Championship with Indiana in 1976, an Olympic gold medal the same year and an NBA Championship with Boston in 1984. He’s one of only three players (Magic Johnson and Jerry Lucas) to do so.

We could keep going, but I think you get the point. While Okafor is off to a great start and just might surpass all of Chicago’s greatest, it is a bit premature to crown him.

Now, had his dad said, “no player from Chicago has a more decorated Wikipedia Page,” there would be no argument. Okafor’s Wikipedia page is almost 20 pages long and has 277 references. By comparison, Michael Jordan’s is 23 pages with 206 references.

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