Markelle Fultz opens up on time with Sixers in first game back in Philly

PHILADELPHIA–When one looks back at Markelle Fultz and his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, one will see that it wasn’t very productive.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft had a target on him rather quickly after the Sixers moved up from No. 3 to No. 1 after a trade with the Boston Celtics in order to select him. The idea was that Fultz would join Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons at the time to form a Big 3 and compete for a title.

Instead, Fultz dealt with a ton of adversity. The young man out of Washington only played 14 games in his rookie season due to a shoulder injury, he then was a starter on opening night in his second season, but he only played 19 games due to another bizarre shoulder injury.

There were then reports that he had the “yips” and there were a lot of “he said, she said” stuff, and after just 33 games with the Sixers, he was sent to the Orlando Magic at the 2019 deadline.

On Monday night, Fultz is set to play in his first game back in Philadelphia since the deal after dealing with more injuries in Orlando and he opened up on his time with the Sixers and any emotions walking into the Wells Fargo Center.

On his emotions coming back to Philadelphia

“I think the last time I actually made myself to the arena since I’ve been traded was—I wasn’t playing I was on the bench, but always fun to come back here. The fans are one of a kind here. So just the atmosphere here and the experience of being drafted here, it’s definitely going to be fun to be able to step on the court and play tonight (Monday).”

On if he still talks to Embiid

“We talk every once in a while. It’s not like an everyday basis, but we have a lot of love for each other. Since I got here, I jumped on FaceTime and we were just talking a little bit of trash to each other and just talking a little bit, but I still talk to most of the guys here and there. Some of the staff too as well. Every time we see each other we always talk so again, we have those relationships that last a lifetime that I made here in Philly and throughout the seasons of me being here. I definitely have a number of people that I talk to.”

How he would describe his time with the Sixers

“Amazing. They drafted me here and they supported me through everything. Of course, I wish I could have done more, but going through injuries and everything that happened here, I still think it was a very dope experience as far as just the camaraderie and being on the team that we had here. Very talented guys and again, meeting the people that I had the chance to meet so I think it was a positive thing. Everything happens for a reason. I’m a firm believer in that. So again, I’m very thankful for everything that you know Philly has done for me.”

How he feels with the Magic

In 29 games in the 2022-23 season, Fultz is averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 assists while shooting 50% from the floor and 34.2% from deep.

Fultz: “I feel amazing, man. I still feel like I have a lot to improve on and a lot to work on, but again, I’m really enjoying this process of just waking up every day and enjoying it and being able to play the game I love and have fun doing it. I think the biggest thing is that I’m out there just competing and having fun and I’m really enjoying the process of just getting better every day.”

On if he believes he needed the trade to Orlando to be productive

“Not necessarily. I just think it was a matter of timing just getting healthy really. Again, everything happens for a reason and I feel like I can bring value to any team that I’m on. It just happened to be that I got traded from Philly and got a new opportunity. So of course, I’m thankful for the opportunity. It definitely opened up a new pathway and new people and new every day. I think it was just a matter of me getting healthy when I was there, but I’m definitely grateful for the new opportunity and I’m thankful.”

Reflecting on his time in Philadelphia

“Just trying to get that grind to get back on the court, but me personally I felt a lot of love. Just from the fans, from my teammates, people like that. You obviously always have those few fans and people that are doubting and hating and want other things to go on, but for the most part, everybody just wanted success really. So whatever we had to do to get that, it was that that was being done but again, my teammates did a great job of supporting me and I did a good job of just trying to get back on court.”

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire