LeBron James was “happy as hell” for Markelle Fultz after the Magic guard posted a triple-double in a 119-118 victory over the Lakers.
Fultz had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists at Staples Center for his second career triple-double as the Magic ended the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak on Wednesday.
The former No. 1 overall pick struggled with his shooting motion after entering the NBA and made just 33 appearances across his first two seasons in the league with the 76ers. Fultz was eventually diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and last February got traded to Orlando, where he continued his rehabilitation.
The 21-year-old revealed before the game that James had been a “mentor” to him, and the four-time MVP was impressed by his latest display.
Asked how Fultz has been able to turn his career around, James replied: “Confidence and opportunity. They’re confident in him, he’s confident in himself, and he’s given an opportunity to go out and play the game how he grew up playing. I think 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.”
Fultz is averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 assists in 27.0 minutes per game this season and is pleased his perseverance is paying off.
“What I’ve been through, it just gives me more fire to keep going,” Fultz told ESPN. “I put in a lot of hard work to be where I’m at. I’ve been through a lot, but I never gave up. So, it just shows for people out there, whoever is doubting you, whoever is doing something [to you], put something on your mind and if you have something on your mind, go do it.
“Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t and I’m never going to stop. I’m going to keep working until I can’t play no more.”
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