By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
For the umpteenth time over the last five years, the Philadelphia 76ers organization has made an absolute mess of an injury situation. Dating all the way back to Andrew Bynum in 2012, management has consistently been vague, unforthcoming, and even purposely misleading in disclosing injury information to the public. Alongside Bynum, we’ve gone through the charade with Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jerryd Bayless. Now, the latest source of confusion is Markelle Fultz and his right shoulder, which he may or may not be able to use to shoot a basketball.
As many of you know, this whole ordeal started in training camp when Fultz showed a jacked-up form on his free throw shooting. At first, he said it was just something he was toying around with over the summer. Then, we learned via an off-hand comment from Brett Brown that it was also due, in part, to a troublesome right shoulder. Fast forward to four games into the regular season, and Fultz is refusing to take outside shots, while his free throw shooting is making him a national laughingstock.
Markelle Fultz free throw shooting form is hard to watch.
— NBA Inside Stuff (@NBAInside_Stuff) October 22, 2017
Still, the team never came forward and said the shoulder was any major cause for concern, even though it seemed apparent to everyone watching that something wasn’t right and Fultz should probably be rested until it healed completely. Then, Tuesday afternoon, Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brother, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Fultz had his shoulder drained because “he literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball”.
I’m not going to be a Ted Mosby and point out that Fultz ‘literally’ could raise his arms up, because Brothers quickly clarified to Woj that Fultz had actually had a cortisone shot for his shoulder, i.e. fluid was put in it. In, out, what’s the difference when it comes to fluid? Since then, he’s been undergoing physiotherapy treatment while experiencing ongoing irritation and discomfort. Fultz’s shoulder being injured certainly isn’t great (injuries never are), but it’s at least an explanation for why the first overall pick has been nothing like the player we saw at the University of Washington.
Once again though, why wasn’t the team upfront about the fact the Fultz had a cortisone shot and that the shoulder was bothering him, rather than let people speculate for weeks about whether this was some kind of mental breakdown for the rookie? Moreover, why is Fultz playing at all? If he’s hurt, rest him, rather than let him struggle and possibly develop bad habits with his shooting while trying to compensate for the injury. It’s baffling that the team would have been so conservative with Embiid and Simmons, but they’re just throwing Fultz out on the court injured.
I’m tired of the lack of transparency from the organization. They asked a lot of fans the last few years, seeking patience through a boatload of losses with the promise of a brighter future down the road. In return, the least they could do is be on the level about important issues like the first overall pick being injured. Be better, Sixers. And I don’t mean on the court.