Celtics

Bean: I no longer enjoy the Markelle Fultz jokes

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Bean: I no longer enjoy the Markelle Fultz jokes

I have jokingly called Markelle Fultz “trash” maybe a zillion times. As a newcomer to basketball Twitter, it’s just been a practice in making up for lost time. 

[You see, basketball Twitter is an absolutely magical place. You just say a bunch of nonsense but everyone understands that you’re either exaggerating for effect or just being absurd altogether. Basketball Twitter doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. Basketball Twitter just loves its sport and has fun. Take a damn note or 50, hockey Twitter.]

But the sad thing is that calling Fultz trash, a bust, or whatever else hits too close to the truth right now. And calling a kid a failure only months after he was selected first overall is just mean. Until Fultz gets a little wind under his sails, I’m pulling for him and so should you.

Mainly, I love the Jayson Tatum-vs.-Fultz argument. The Celtics traded out of the first pick to No. 3 in a draft believed to have a clear-cut best player and quite a bit of separation between the top two guys and everyone else. All indications are that if they stayed at No. 1, they would have drafted the guy they took at No. 3 (Tatum), which would have been criticized heavily. Hell, even trading to No. 3 to get Tatum was criticized. 

Naturally, Celtics fans should want Danny Ainge to eventually be proven right. Fultz' promise made that an unlikely result, but that struggle would make up the Tatum-vs.-Fultz rivalry. Right now, however, Ainge has already been proven so right that there really isn’t even a debate. In freaking November. And it’s as much about Fultz’ stock absolutely plummeting as it is about Tatum proving to be one of the Celtics’ best players right out of the gate. 

The hits seemingly don’t stop coming for Fultz, who is still in the midst of an indefinite sabbasketball™ due to a shoulder issue. Questions about Fultz began leading up to the season, when re-worked free throw mechanics made him look like Keith Foulke trying to shoot a basketball on half a bottle of NyQuil. It was ugly and it was bad. 

After four games, all of which saw him come off the bench, and bland numbers (six points a game, 6 of 12 on free throws), Fultz’ agent said the player couldn’t even raise his arms to shoot and shouldn’t be playing. The 76ers then shut him down, saying they’d re-evaluate him in three weeks. Then that date was pushed back again. He hasn't played a game since Oct. 23. 

Two weeks after he was initially shut down, we got this: 

That’s Fultz shooting left-handed, which people typically don’t do when they aren’t lefties. There was initial panic that this marked yet another departure from Fultz’ mechanics, but the team clarified that Fultz was only shooting left-handed because he’s not yet been cleared to shoot with his dominant hand. 

Fultz is likely chalking the whole start to his career up to not being 100 percent. He’d be foolish not to. Yet while Tatum is putting up 20-point games and putting away wins, Fultz and the 76ers are still just trying to get on the same page. Tatum has sprinted far ahead of where anyone could have expected and Fultz has fallen far behind. 

That stinks. If Fultz turns out to be a complete bust, Ainge will deserve all the credit in the world in dodging that bullet. Hell, he already deserves credit for seemingly making the right pick. Yet we’ve got to wait for Fultz to actually look decent before we laugh too hard. Cracking jokes about an OK player is commonplace. Making fun of a bad player is super mean. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Anthony Davis opening the door for a trade?

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CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Anthony Davis opening the door for a trade?

Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely start off this week's episode talking about the return of Marcus Smart following the All-Star break, and how much the team missed him in their recent skid. Will head coach Brad Stevens make a lineup change, and with more practice time under his belt, will Greg Monroe see his minutes increase?

(9:50) Sherrod talks about his article on NBCSportsBoston.com this week on Kyrie Irving needing to have a 'special' finish to his first season with the Celtics.

(14:15) Would the rumored changes to the NBA Playoff format would be good or bad?

(16:45) Kyle and Sherrod (plus producer Jason Levine joining the fray) have a great debate on the latest tidbit of trade rumblings surrounding New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. Is the door finally open for the Celtics to swoop in?

(30:40) The guys also talk about the latest news with Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs....could he become available this offseason?

(33:10) Finally, Kyle sits down with Brad Stevens to talk about his trip to Red Sox Spring Training during the break, plus the terrible end to his own baseball career.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Kyrie tells ESPN his move to Boston 'trying at times, but well worth it'

Kyrie tells ESPN his move to Boston 'trying at times, but well worth it'

Kyrie Irving opened up - a little bit - in an ESPN interview with Rachel Nichols in which he reflected on his move to Boston and his upcoming movie, "Uncle Drew". 

Irving was asked how he would assess the changes in his career since leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after requesting a trade this summer that led to the deal with the Celtics.

"Been a lot of newness, honestly," Irving said. "It's an adjustment in itself. Being with a totally different group of guys, trying to bridge that gap with our group and trying to be my best self with our group. It's been awesome. Trying at times, but well worth it."

With the Celtics in the thick of the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference, Irving said he's pleased with how it has worked out. 

"It was a big chance," Irving said, then jokingly added, "Babe Ruth said it, he swings big, may not miss big, may hit a home run, who knows?

"I'm glad I took a chance on what I wanted to do within my career."

The conversation quickly shifted to Irving's feature-length acting debut in the movie "Uncle Drew" which comes to theaters this summer. Irving said he's always had an interest in acting and has had his teammates poke fun at him when he listed his favorite music as songs from the musical "Rent".

Still, the ultimate goal is raising another championship banner in Boston and raising the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

"It's something I think about every day," Irving said. "I think about it every day."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE