Markelle Fultz – Can still champion causes while playing

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Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz is confident that the momentum NBA players have built in the fight for social justice can continue as the league looks to restart next month.

“I think as long as we’re safe, this is something that we all need,” Fultz said of returning to play during a Monday conference call with reporters. “Basketball is a big part of a lot of people’s lives. Not just ours, but our families, people that just watch it. So I feel as though there’s two ways to this path of the NBA returning. But I feel as though we can make it the best of both worlds, as long as we’re doing everything that we can do, for not only ourselves but standing up for what’s right in this world.”

The 22-year-old believes there is a lot of support within the league from players to continue speaking up about issues they feel passionately about. He spoke of the unity players will need in order to get the different messages across the various platforms the NBA provides. One way Fultz and his teammates are proceeding is by putting together a message about several social issues.

“For example, we all came together and said that we want to do a video,” Fultz said. “A video coming out where we all say different parts that’s going out. Just to speak on what’s going on in the world and what we feel is what’s right and what’s wrong. … I feel as though we’re going to use our resources to try and figure out what is the best way we can help change the world. Another thing we had, we had a chance to get on a call and just trying to help people learn [about] the right to vote. To have a chance to vote, to register to vote, so they can vote and make a big change, I feel as though that’s the first step. And so it can be just a little thing of telling people to go register to vote.”

Fultz also noted that he is hoping to wear a close friend’s name on the back of his jersey when the season restarts. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, and president of the National Basketball Players Association, Chris Paul told ESPN’s The Undefeated Saturday that the union and the league are collaborating so that players can wear various messages of support on the backs of their jerseys for various social causes they believe in.

“I’ve thought about a name that I want to put on the back of my jersey,” Fultz said. “I actually had a brother, not blood, but a close friend who I grew up with in high school, his name’s Jaylen Brown. He was killed a couple years back. And I wear a wristband every game for him, and I think about putting his name on the back of my jersey. I haven’t been 100 percent sure. I don’t know if my team is planning on doing something unified or not, but that’s been one thought in my mind. … I think that putting his name would mean a lot not only to myself but what’s going on in the world.”

As far as basketball goes, Fultz says he is feeling “great,” and has gotten some work in on a hoop he bought a few days after the league shutdown on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fultz admits it will be strange having to play at Walt Disney World while being so close to his Orlando-area home.

“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since they started talking about [the possibility of playing at Disney],” Fultz said. “At first I thought we were going to be able to stay at home so I was a little excited, but then when I realized we’re going to have to go in the bubble too, I understand the reasons why. … I’ve kind of been thinking about it like it’s going to be an AAU tournament.”

The Magic enter play next month with a 30-35 record, a half game behind the Brooklyn Nets for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

“You go on the road — sometimes you have tournaments in your hometown, but you still stay in a hotel,” Fultz said of the AAU tournament analogy. “I’ve been trying to think positive about it. … It’s going to be a challenge, but I think that’s what’s going to make it fun for me and also some of my teammates. But also, it’s kind of nerve wracking not to know how it’s going to be. Also, being with no fans. I think that’s another thing that’s going to be a big difference. But I’ve been thinking about the positive about it. I think it’s going to be just like a practice scrimmage atmosphere, which I think some people play better in.”

Source: espn.com

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