The Sixers are in the midst of a 6-4 stretch and – a win against Cavs notwithstanding – haven’t beaten a playoff-bound team since a two-point win on February 14th against the Heat. That same Miami team has edged the Sixers by a point and trounced them by nine in the two meetings since. Fans are once again clamoring for information on No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. Typically when a national outlet posts a Sixers-related story, I expect a bombshell. Jackie McMullan penned a piece for ESPN last April in which Joel Embiid revealed for the first time publicly that the meniscus tear he suffered was feared by team doctors to be so severe that a six-month recovery was likely. In December, Ramona Shelburne wrote a biopic on Embiid for ESPN that pulled back the curtain and revealed the process and motivations behind Joel’s trolling of his opponents, as told by his teammates and Embiid himself.
That brings us to an article from the New York Times titled, “Markelle Fultz Lost His Shot. Will He Ever Find It Again?” Spoiler alert: nothing to see here. Stop me if the article’s subheading sounds like every other Reddit/forum/update post, “Fultz was the Philadelphia 76ers’ top pick in the draft last summer, largely because of his jump shot. It has now gone missing and nobody knows why.”
STOP THE PRESSES! No, really, stop the presses. How many people do you know that actually read the New York Times in paper copy outside of a library or Barnes & Noble?
“But, what about the narrative? Was it well-constructed?” you ask. Take a gander:
“Markelle Fultz, a moon-faced teenager in a black hoodie and black shorts, was careful not to shoot from too great a distance. He dribbled, spun and gathered himself. The gym, still empty of fans, was quiet as a grave. He lifted the basketball a foot from his forehead.
He drew in a breath.”
Thank God. No one needs to add “death by lack of respiration” to the kid’s premature obituary. It gets better:
“It felt sad, like watching a dancer try to remember how to pirouette.”
Send him to Abby Lee Miller!
“You could see the burden.”
What a terrible burden!
Apparently he’s also a terrible teammate.
“On one play, Simmons sprinted past a defender and flung himself skyward. He dunked with his trademark combination of power and grace. The fans, and the bench, rose in unison for an earsplitting ovation. Fultz nodded his head, but sat with his hands clasped together at his waist.“
But, how could you be upset with the little fella?
“His face was cherubic, still framed by a hint of baby fat.”
I have a request of the Times. The next time you send someone to cover our team, send someone with credibility like Marc Stein. I imagine he would’ve at least talked to a player or coach, rather than giving a Marcus Hayes play-by-play of a between-period exchange between two anonymous fans.
“This has to be a mental thing,” one man said. “Give the kid some time to work this out.” He paused. “Who among us doesn’t have some sort of mental thing?”
“At this point, it’s just a sad story,” said another. “You watch the guy and, honestly, he’s shooting like my 6-year-old. At this point, all we can do is hope for him. Hope. Who would have thought that when we got him?”
I suggest that Kurt Streeter take a similar path as a dejected, post-game Fultz:
Slowly, he walked off the court, down an aisle, and out of view.