The Sixers' home opener on Thursday night in South Philadelphia was an eventful and somewhat easy win over the Chicago Bulls.
Joel Embiid had his way on the offensive end. Ben Simmons did it all en route to a seemingly effortless triple-double. And Markelle Fultz shot the ball. A lot.
All eyes are going to be on the second-year player who missed most of last season for... issues and with two nationally televised games to start the season, the buzz around Fultz is palpable.
Fultz didn't magically find the kind of killer jumper you might expect from a No. 1 overall pick last night, but he did seemingly find the confidence to take it. After he passed up a few open looks early in the game and missed his first few shots, the basketball experts on Twitter let their displeasure be known. Fultz may have had the backing of the 20,302 in the Wells Fargo Center last night who encouraged him to let it rip, but the sentiment of fans sitting at home wasn't as forgiving.
TNT analyst, former Sixer great and generally fun guy Charles Barkley had a message for these tweet-happy folks following the game.
“Listen, let me talk to these damn idiots on Twitter," Barkley said. "People are pulling for [Fultz]. The kid struggled mentally with his shot. We’re all pulling for him. That’s why we’re excited to see him do well. You just sit at home in your grandma’s basement with your drawers on, typing on your damn keyboard. Shut the hell up. We’re pulling for Markelle Fultz.
“All the people on the internet who are mean, they sit at home living with their parents — like 32 years old living with their parents, got their computer out, watching the world go by them, cookie crumbs on their stomach.”
I wouldn't expect the polarizing nature of Fultz's play to go away over the next few months. It will certainly be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow all season long.
Here are what some of the people closest to Fultz had to say about his shot last night:
Brett Brown: “I felt when he was shooting the ball, they kept going under middle pick and rolls. He shot it to mean it, he didn’t look afraid of anything. He missed the shots, but they looked good, and I think in general, we played him quite a bit of minutes, he took the most shots out of anybody on the team, I thought his defense was very good. It’s a big night for that young man.”
Joel Embiid: “Everybody always gets excited when he shoots a three. He’s going to make those, he’s worked on his shot the whole summer so that’s nothing to worry about. I think the way he can help us is just being a playmaker. When I’m on the floor with him I really feel comfortable. He really knows how to find guys and understands when someone needs the ball, that’s where he’s going to help us a lot.”
Ben Simmons: “It’s huge. Especially him starting, you want a guy like that to come out and hit shots and make shots and feel comfortable and confident coming out.”
Markelle Fultz: “I’m never afraid to take shots. I worked hard this summer. Tonight. I didn’t make a lot of shots, but I am going to keep shooting. If I see an open shot, then I’m going to shoot it; that’s what I worked for. Tonight didn’t fall, but eventually, it will. I’m going to keep working.”
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