Ilana Okafor admits it isn't always easy packing suitcases when you're trying to stuff in clothes for a husband who stands 6-foot-10. It's even more difficult when you aren't really sure how many suitcases you need to pack anyway. That's what she faced Monday night in her New York City home as she helped her husband, Emeka, prepare to head back to New Orleans to continue the remainder of his second 10-day contract with the Pelicans. He ended up taking three suitcases. Just in case. Just in case he gets more than only two more games with the Pelicans and gets to remain with the team for the rest of the season. "Just pack it," Ilana advised him. "Worst-case scenario is you don't need it. You have two more games to sell yourself. He's taking it just one day at a time. Or in this case, one 10-day at a time. But he has his eyes on the prize and has a lot of luggage just in case." Okafor's eyes have been on the prize since 2013, when a herniated disk sidelined him for the entire season shortly after he was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Phoenix Suns. He missed the next three seasons, too, and didn't play another NBA game again until the Pelicans signed him to a 10-day contract in early February. "It's been an awesome ride so far," Okafor said. " I'm happy to be here trying to earn my way back in. Now that I'm back, it feels good and it feels natural. I'm going to keep on going until I'm told otherwise." Okafor continues his comeback Friday when the Pelicans host the Miami Heat in the first game after an All-Star break that wasn't much of a break for Okafor. While most NBA players used the break to relax, Okafor worked out every day while also spending time with his wife and his two biggest fans (4-year old daughter Adaeze and 1-year old son Nnamdi). If things had gone according to script, perhaps Okafor would have one day been an All-Star. At least that's the path he seemed to be headed down almost 15 years ago. He led UConn to the national title in 2004 and was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament and was the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by the then-Charlotte Bobcats. He was Rookie of the Year. He even appeared on the cover of the EA Sports NCAA March Madness video game in 2005.
Emeka Okafor making the most of his NBA comeback chance with Pelicans
The Advocate | Feb 23