Fultz, 21, dropped a 21-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple double on the Los Angeles Lakers, leading the Orlando Magic to a 119-118 upset road victory Wednesday night over the Western Conference’s top squad.
Markelle says LeBron has served as a mentor for him throughout his young NBA career.
“Confidence and opportunity,” said LeBron James when asked to explain how Fultz has turned it around. “They’re confident in him, he’s confident in himself. He’s given an opportunity to go out and play the game how he grew up playing. Everything else takes care of itself. I’ve been supportive of him ever since he was in high school, when he was a rookie in Philly. Been supportive of his situation and still [am] to this day. I’m happy as hell for him.”
The four-time MVP and three-time champion recently offered up congratulations the Magic guard following his career-best, 25-point night against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 6.
“He’s reached out to me multiple times, he’s been a mentor to me and he’s always told me that I could reach out to him for anything,” Fultz said on Wednesday prior to his Magic facing James’ Lakers at Staples Center. “Recently, when I scored 25, he reached out to me and showed love. He’s like a mentor for me, and it’s so cool.”
Fultz, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, saw much of his first two professional seasons wrecked by Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, an often difficult-to-detect condition where nerves and blood vessels between the collar bone and first rib are compressed and cause numbness, pain and limited motion in the shoulder and arm.
“I think my story is a favorite (around the NBA) and there are a lot of people rooting for me – just to see me back on the court,” he said. “And then you’ve got the other side of it, with other people doubting me and everything like that. But I definitely feel the love everywhere I go, from the different coaches and players, so that’s always a good thing for me.”