Markelle Fultz: not a lot has gone right at the start of the NBA career of the 76ers #1 draft pick. Fultz was supposed to complete “The Process” — the nickname the Sixers cleverly gave to their rebuilding efforts. But Fultz’s shot got wonky and weird and his people — including his lawyers — started calling the shots on his health, seeking specialists’ opinions on Fultz’s mysterious shoulder injury.
Now comes the news that those specialists have diagnosed Fultz with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a shoulder condition more commonly associated with baseball pitchers. Fultz is out indefinitely based on the diagnosis, and many think he’s on his way out of Philadelphia too — as the situation shows increasing echoes of Kawhi Leonard‘s misunderstood injury last year with the Spurs. (Fultz sure hopes his story works out the way Leonard’s has in Toronto so far.)
Usually players in frustrating situations, especially those burdened — like Fultz — with enormously high expectations, show their frustration and become burdensome in the locker room. But even recently, as his playing time dwindled, Fultz’s attitude has been remarkably upbeat, team-focused, and resilient. Fellow 76er guard TJ McConnell has been getting Fultz’s minutes and instead of sulking, Fultz is rooting for his friend and hoping the team succeeds. Here’s Fultz on reduced playing time and rooting for his team:
“You definitely want to go out there and compete … I’m a competitor. But, at the end of the day, coach made a decision to do that (play McConnell), so I have to live with it. My mindset is just, when I step on the court, go out there and play. But while T.J. is out there, I’m rooting for him.
“It’s not like I’m sitting on the bench pouting or anything. I want to be out there, but I’m going to root for my teammates.”