Last night when the Orlando Magic were playing the Cleveland Cavaliers, Markelle Fultz tore his left ACL. For a basketball player, this is pretty much the worst thing that can happen, as most players never return to play like they used to. But, not all players.
When I think of NBA players having an ACL injury, the first player that comes to mind is Derrick Rose. The season after he was the youngest MVP ever, Derrick Rose tore his ACL and he has unfortunately never been the same player since. But then there’s Zach Lavine who tore his ACL back in February 2017 and has since gone on to average career highs in points, assists and rebounds. My main issue with Fultz, though, is that this isn’t the first injury.
Just after he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, he had trouble with his jump shot as he was feeling pain in his shoulders and arms. He was later diagnosed with scapular muscular imbalance, which put simply, is a muscle imbalance around his shoulder that prevents him from shooting the ball as he normally would. He underwent a lot of treatment and physical therapy and was then later also diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a disorder where blood vessels between your clavicle and first rib are compressed. Dr. Jacques Hacquebord best described the sensation that Markelle feels as an ‘uncomfortable numbness’ in his arm, especially when he raises his arms above his head. This makes it clear why Markelle could do everything else he needed to do on the basketball court, other than shoot the ball. But Dr. Jacques Hacquebord also said that over time, the feeling of numbness should go away and his health should improve, which we have seen. It’s impossible for me to say if he was back to full health, but I’m sure he wasn’t far off it.
Obviously his ACL tear had nothing to do with his thoracic outlet syndrome so I would say that it shouldn’t make his recovery any more difficult. So is Markelle Fultz’s career over? No. Not by a long stretch. Even if he doesn’t get back to the level he was at just before he got injured, I’m sure we’ll Markelle back in the NBA eventually. All we can do for now is wish Markelle a quick recovery and hope that next season is his best yet.