PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Markelle Fultz heard 20,000 fans chanting “Fultz! Fultz! Fultz!” and for a fleeting moment he thought they were serenading Philly’s most popular athlete.
“I thought they were saying ‘Nick Foles,’ ” Fultz said of the Super Bowl MVP for the champion Philadelphia Eagles.
“Then I realized it, and it was pretty dope. These fans are great, and I love them.”
The Sixers and their fans wanted the No. 1 pick to play and — after five often-confusing months — they finally got him.
Fultz scored 10 points and had eight assists in his first game since October, helping the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Denver Nuggets 123-104 on Monday night.
The first selection of the 2017 draft shot an airball, had three shots blocked and artfully attacked the lane, flashing glimpses of what has made him both a mystery project and prominent prospect.
With Philadelphia having clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2012, Fultz decided the time was right to return from the injured shoulder and busted confidence that had cost him all but four games of his rookie season.
Fultz was on a media blackout in his absence and said nothing in his public return to clarify his situation.
He basically ignored the first two questions about his shoulder, and instead thanked teammates and coaches for their support during rehab.
Why was today the day to play?
“Just woke up and it was that day,” he said.
His next two answers were as empty as his stat line since October.
Did he do something to hurt his shoulder or just feel soreness?
Fultz rubbed his face and stared straight without talking and grabbed a towel someone tossed him. His wiped his face during a few more seconds of awkward silence.
Why not talk about the injury?