The Magic’s victory over the Cavaliers was overshadowed by the devastating injury news confirmed by the team shortly after the game.
Markelle Fultz suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.
MARKELLE FULTZ INJURY UPDATE: pic.twitter.com/2PLDBUdLGF— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) January 7, 2021
Fultz exited the game just minutes in after driving the lane, planting his leg and collapsing to the floor in pain. Fultz was helped off the floor and taken to the locker room in a wheelchair. The immediate thought, and worst fear, was that the non-contact injury was an ACL tear, and it unfortunately proved to be just that.
It means that the Magic’s top two young players, Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, are both out simultaneously with torn ACLs. This after the Magic recently signed the two players to extensions totaling $130 million over the next few seasons (three years, $50 million for Fultz, four years $80 million for Isaac).
How many times has a professional sports team had their two best young players out simultaneously with torn ACLs?— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) January 7, 2021
Welcome to the world of the Orlando Magic.
You have to feel for Fultz, who overcame two injury-prone seasons in Philadelphia, where he played in just 33 of 164 games, to have his first fully healthy season with the Magic last season, missing just one game.
Fultz got off to a fats start this season, before struggling over his last few games. Seeing an increase in playing time and usage, Fultz was averaging 14.3 points 6.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game this season.
The only silver lining for the Magic is that they have another young point guard they can hand they keys to the offense over to in rookie point guard Cole Anthony, who they selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Anthony, who entered Wednesday’s game averaging 8.0 points per in 20 minutes per game, will be thrust into a starting role much sooner than anticipated. Jordan Bone handled backup duties on Wednesday, but that role obviously will be filled by Michael Carter-Williams once he returns from injury (please, Steve Clifford, do not start MCW).
Fultz’s injury puts a dark cloud over what has been an encouraging 6-2 start for the Magic, further reinforcing the fact that the Magic simply are not meant to have nice things. Already an organization all too familiar with watching franchise players have their careers derailed by injury (Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill), the future of the Magic of late has been in the hands of surgeons, physical therapists and training staffs.
Fultz, though, has already shown the ability to come back when his career seemed all but over. Hopefully he returns next season and picks up right where he left off.