Markelle Fultz returned to court on Monday after a long absence while recovering from a torn ACL. The young Magic point guard was greeted with a standing ovation from a cheering Orlando crowd as he had his first moment of game action in more than a full year, via NBATV.
Markelle Fultz receives a standing ovation in her first game back from a torn ACL 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Wt1sAd5Crn
— NBA Television (@NBATV) March 1, 2022
Fultz showed up for Monday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers and was greeted with a firm hug from teammate Cole Anthony, as well as a loud standing ovation from the Magic faithful.
The 23-year-old hasn’t played in a game in 13 months, having last played Jan. 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He injured his knee after logging just four minutes of time on the pitch in that game, and has been working ever since.
He was limited to just eight games for the Magic last year, averaging 12.9 points, 5.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. While Cole Anthony impressed Fultz on the sidelines, the former No. 1 overall pick is back in the mix now and should grab a role in Orlando’s rotation.
He impressed in his freshman year at Orlando in 2019-20 and earned himself a three-year, $50 million contract extension from the organization just before suffering the ACL injury. Fultz is making $16.5 million this season and next, and will pocket $17 million in 2023-24.
Fultz will be focused on coming back at a pace after being off the field for so long, but the reception he received from the fans at the Amway Center on Monday should give him plenty of motivation.