If you watched the Blue/White 76ers scrimmage yesterday from the Palestra than you’re likely trying to come to terms with some unpleasant facts. The highly coveted #1 overall pick was anything but Sunday afternoon. Where were the head turning highlights we expect from a franchise changing prospect that Bryan Colangelo had to give up a boatload to draft? All we saw yesterday was a few mid-range jumpers, some technically sound passes, and an affable attitude from one of the supposed “top talents” on the roster.
Where were the rim rattling dunks? The no-look passes? The triple doubles? The buzzer beaters and the killer attitude? Is this what the 76ers gave up a boatload of picks for? Those picks could have possibly been used to draft the NEXT Markelle Fultz. They’re valuable assets.
Instead we saw someone who wasn’t giving 100% out there. I didn’t see him set any jaw-rattling screens or take any violent charges to give his squad a leg up. We didn’t see any of those.
Instead we saw Fultz help Ben Simmons up from the floor after the two collided at mid court halfway through the scrimmage. Are you going to do that in a game that counts, Markelle? Help up an opponent in the heat of battle?
My JV basketball coach always told us that “You play like your practice.” He was a wise man and I’m sure he was shaking his head in disgust at what he saw yesterday.
Fultz evidently does not yet have what it takes to succeed in this city, so why isn’t the media letting him know it?
Instead of hearing it from the front page of the Inquirer sports section, this young man is being trumped up as a franchise savior by the Philadelphia media. In years past they’d be nitpicking this young man to death for “not showing enough” in his first appearance in front of the hometown heavies.
It’s called tough love and it helped shape so many of this city’s past greats into the legends they became.
Donovan McNabb. Charles Barkley. Eric Lindros. Mike Schmidt. Ask them and they’ll tell you that the reporters, journalists, and sports talk hosts in this city are 100% what made them into the hall of fame players they became, not their natural talent. They had to learn how to play in this city, and it made them better athletes, and more importantly, better men.
But not Fultz. Suddenly this town has kid gloves when it comes to handling the #1 overall pick.
Take this, for instance. Last week during media day Fultz spent an inordinate amount of time neglecting his media duties, choosing to eat Chick-Fil-A instead. Last I heard, Chick-Fil-A isn’t exactly part of a balanced diet for a highly-tuned athlete. Do you think Chip Kelly would have stood for this if he were still around? Say what you will about his tenure, but those Eagles were in tip-top condition.
But what does the media do? Does the hard-nailed Philadelphia sports media take the young Fultz to task and teach him a valuable lesson? Nope. It enables the youngsters obsession with fast food and makes a joke of it.
Where is the Philadelphia sports media I used to know that would nitpick every decision he makes and attribute it to his play on the court? Where are the sports talk hosts that would criticize everything a player did 24 hours a day, and then claim the athlete “doesn’t know what Philadelphia is about” when he dared to question the media’s negative portrayal of him?
It’s gone, and it’s instead replaced with this:
Whatever happened to tough love? It was a teachable moment, and they failed.
I guess Angelo Cataldi is faltering in his old age. Look at this tweet from last year when Joel Embiid failed to impress the masses during his first preseason performance.
That’s what I like to see! A pointed, level-headed criticism that set this young man and all of his fans straight! 5 points for a top 3 draft pick? NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Sure, that averages out to 20 points over the course of a full game, but he didn’t show enough to IMPRESS and Cataldi called him out on it. How come he didn’t have 20 points in 12 minutes? Moses Malone probably did it, so why not Embiid?
Good for Angelo. He stood up for what is right and now Embiid has his head on straight. He can thank Cataldi for that.
Where is Angelo now? Too scared to level criticism when you’re this close to retirement? Shame on you Angelo. You used to hold yourself up as an example for these young, exceptional athletes. Now I guess you’re just counting the dollars in your 401K.
Where are the sports talk segments today weighing the pros and cons of starting Fultz off with the 87ers when the season starts to send him a message? I haven’t heard any. This city is going SOFT and our athletes will be the ones to pay for it.
If Fultz isn’t hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy over his head this June, than the media has failed him. We’ve failed him.
Please don’t let that happen.