Markelle Fultz went from being one of the potential saviors of an NBA franchise to becoming the joke of the draft because of an unknown injury. In an interview with Etan Thomas of Basketball News, Fultz shared what suffering from the injury was like and his fault for not being open about it.
From top pick to “bust”
Fultz was drafted first overall in the 2017 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. At that time, he was seen as one of the final pieces of the championship puzzle for the Sixers. It was a long, rebuilding road for Philly fans which was why the hype surrounding Markelle reached an unprecedented peak. After all, his college highlights said it all.
Imagine the names picked after Markelle Fultz: Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox. When healthy, Markelle could give any young guard a run for their money. But something happened between the Draft and Markelle’s first NBA game. Something that became the biggest mystery in the Association.
He went from being a 40% shooter in college to a laughing stock in the NBA. Fultz’s free throw percentage in his rookie year never reached 50%. There was something wrong with his body, but it was not diagnosed at that time. On The Rematch podcast hosted by Thomas, Markelle explained that Thoracic Outlet Syndrome isn’t like most injuries.
“TOS is not diagnosed through a MRI, CAT scan. It’s very hard to diagnose TOS, which is a big part of why, in the beginning, I kind of thought that nothing was going on. And I just thought it was my shoulder, because when I got MRIs and I got the scans, I didn’t see anything that was going on. It’s so funny, people were like, ‘He changed his shot.‘ Like, what would I change my shot for? There’s no reason.”Markelle Fultz, The Rematch
People were quick to judge how he went from a winner to a loser. However, they don’t know anything behind the injury, and Fultz admitted it was partly his fault for playing through the pain. The pressure surrounding his condition was so high, Markelle started to believe he just had to tough it out.
Lesson learned for Fultz
Players who play through the pain are always glorified and put on a pedestal. They become hero-like in the eyes of fans and the front office. However, as Markelle learned the hard way, it’s important to have someone to talk to about how a player really feels in his body.
As the scans of his shoulders returned negative, Fultz tried to play through the pain, even if he had no feeling in his arms, resulting in double pump awkward free throws. As stressed in the interview, listening to your body and having open communication with someone, may it be a family member or someone on the team staff, is important. In the case of the former number one pick, it could have jeopardized his future in the NBA.
Here’s to hoping Markelle gets to reach his full potential because he worked so hard to prove his critics wrong and get his second chance.