By Harvey Hoffman
Former Sixers top overall draft pick Markelle Fultz suffered a season-ending tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first quarter of the Orlando Magic’s 105-94 win last night.
Fultz, who was off to the best start of his career, was driving to the basket less than five minutes into the game when he was cut off by Isaac Okoro and his left knee buckled without contact. The Orlando point guard writhed in pain on the floor for several minutes before he was helped into a wheelchair. The team confirmed after the game that Fultz tore his ACL.
“It’s a huge blow for us,” said Magic center Nikola Vucevic, whose team also will be without standout forward Jonathan Isaac this season because of an ACL tear. “Unfortunately for (Fultz) this is really sad because for two years he had the injury with his shoulder, then last year he finally got to play and this year it was supposed to be a big year for him. He was ready and he started the season out awesome. This really sucks for a guy like him who has worked his way back. It’s hard to see and you feel for the guy.”
Fultz signed a three-year, $50 million extension last month and was finally showing the promise that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft as he led the Magic to a quick start this season. He came in averaging a career-best 14.3 points in seven games.
Fultz posted a message on Twitter, saying in part, “this adversity will only make me stronger in the end.”
“Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this time,” Fultz wrote. “God has a plan for me and I know that this adversity will only make me stronger in the end. I believe in my brothers on this team and we have so much more to prove. To all the fans. keep riding with us. I’m going to approach this recovery with all my heart and be the best teammate I can be to this organization. Faithful to the grind.”
Drafted by the Sixers as part of their lengthy rebuild, Fultz struggled with a difficult-to-diagnose shoulder injury ultimately determined to be thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve ailment that affected the feeling in his arm and hand. He was traded to the Magic in February 2019.