When Markelle Fultz first started hearing rumblings of an NBA bubble in Orlando, he thought it meant the Magic would have a short commute and the ability to sleep in their own beds.
“At first I thought we were going to be able to stay at home so I was a little excited,” Fultz said Monday on a ZOOM conference with the media. “But then when I realized we’re going to have to go in the bubble too, I mean, I understand the reasons why.”
The Magic are the home team by default but won’t enjoy the comforts of home or have a homecourt advantage of any kind. They’ll be so close to home, yet so far away.
“I’ve kind of been thinking about it like it’s gonna be an AAU tournament,” Fultz said. “Sometimes you have tournaments in your hometown but you still stay in a hotel.”
Fultz said the challenge of the bubble is exciting, but the uncertainty is nerve-racking. Having experienced long layoffs in the past, Fultz feels he could have an advantage during the NBA restart. But from a team perspective, he believes the bubble concept presents a wide range of possibilities.
“I feel like this is a unique situation because anything can happen,” Fultz said. “Whatever team can get a rhythm, get their chemistry back and get in the best shape the quickest, I feel as though they put themselves in the best position to go in here and give themselves the best chance.”
Fultz believes that certain players will be impacted by the lack of a crowd that they regularly fed off of in the past. Others, he says, will benefit from playing in a scrimmage-like setting that some players tend to perform better in.
How these factors impact the Magic will be fascinating to see. The team had been playing its best basketball of the season prior to the league being paused on March 11, posting a league-best offensive rating over a 12-game span and winning six of their last nine games.
“It’s been exciting to know that we’re going to get a chance to be together again, and have memories together and work together for the goal that we had at the beginning of the season,” Fultz said.
The restart will also provide NBA players a platform to continue to fight for social justice. Fultz said the Magic have collaborated on a video “just to speak on what’s going on in the world and what we feel as though what’s right and what’s wrong.” With the NBA possibly allowing players to change the names on their jerseys to help further the message, Fultz is considering honoring his late friend.
Fultz also said he might wear the name of his high school friend who died a few years ago, Marquis ‘Jaylen’ Brown, on the back of his jersey. (Currently wears wristband in his memory) Also will discuss with the team to see if they are going to do something as a group.— Dante Marchitelli (@DanteMagic) June 29, 2020
Most importantly, Fultz says, it’s an opportunity to show unity.
“As long as we come together as a group and try to deliver the right message, I think it’s going to be something very powerful,” Fultz said.
“We’re all looking forward to using our platform for the better and the good,” he later added. “We are gonna use our resources to try to figure out what is the best way we can help change the world.”