The Sixers, like plenty of other professional sports teams, try to remain as tight-lipped as possible about injuries.
So when a casual conversation about the ailing Markelle Fultz was incorrectly reported during a national television broadcast, head coach Brett Brown was not happy.
ESPN’s Mark Jones and Doris Burke served as the broadcasters for Sunday’s Sixers-Thunder matchup. During the game, the duo referenced Fultz and the No. 1 pick’s recovery from a shoulder ailment that has limited him to just four games this season.
“Brett Brown was telling us prior to the game tonight, prior to tip, that he speaks with Fultz, he works with Fultz and there seems to be some psychosomatic issues involved with getting over the hump and getting back on the court,” Jones said. “Brown says he continues to improve and he would expect that he would play at some point this year.”
“I’m worried about the young man,” Burke added. “Nineteen years old. He clearly seems to be shaken where that jump shot is concerned. You just hope his confidence gets back where it needs to be.”
Those words didn’t sit well with Brown.
“It was completely misquoted. There was no reference to any of that,” Brown said before Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. “I've spoken with ESPN this morning. They're very apologetic.”
“Markelle Fultz's injury has been well-documented. I have talked about this hundreds and hundreds of times. The story hasn't wavered once. His shot has been affected by the injury. We're trying to reclaim it. There are times when he rises up to shoot that he does feel a bite and it affects him. It's really that simple.”
Of course, Brown has to understand why the questioning of Fultz’s injury status persists. The guard was cleared on Jan. 2 to begin the final stage of his rehab program, which consists of gradual reintegration into team practices and training. Since that time, Fultz has been seen doing just those things — and a few others that likely leave you scratching your head — without any further update.
Even with that said, Brown wasn’t going to let the misrepresentation of Fultz’s mental state linger.
“Last night's erroneous reporting was disappointing,” Brown said. “There were just a poor choice of words. That was admitted. We move on. Markelle Fultz is somebody that we have great care for and we'll continue to help him reclaim his shot and get back on an NBA court.”