In last year’s NBA finals, there were 20.5 million viewers on television alone (statista.com). With such high stakes and so many people watching them live, do we put too much pressure on these professional athletes? More importantly, do we expect too much out of fresh faces that enter the league?
A prime example of this is Markelle Fultz, who is already being considered one of the biggest NBA draft busts of all time. Markelle was the first pick in the 2017 draft and was considered head and shoulders better than the rest of his peers. He was even compared to NBA superstar James Harden. Josh Lawrence, when asked of Markelle’s potential, replied, “Seeing him play in college it was obvious he was just different than everyone he was playing. It was almost as if he was unguardable.”In just one season at Washington, he averaged 23.2 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists, which is a rare feat at the college level. However, after just 33 career games in 2 years, Markelle is averaging 7.7 points in the NBA (www.sports-reference.com/) (www.NBA.com). This leaves many people wondering, what happened?
During the summer months after he was drafted reports of a shoulder injury began to spread after his lackluster performance. Injury or not one thing was apparent, Markelle could not shoot a basketball. It was obvious that he needed time to work on getting better and healing his body. His advisors decided that it was best for him to take time off and return to his former potential. In spite of this, he received harsh criticism from basketball fans across the country. Due to this, Markelle’s recovery was sped up and he felt forced to return to the court quicker than anticipated. As he continues to struggle this raises the question, is too much pressure getting to him?
Some people may argue that Markelle’s struggles are due to his own faults. That he wasn’t prepared for the NBA and he just isn’t as good as he used to be. When Jordan Heyboer was asked about Markelle’s struggles he simply put it, “It’s his own fault, he just needs to get better.” Although this may seem true, it is far from it. Markelle was rushed back onto the court due to pressure from the fans. He simply was not ready and clearly has something he is struggling with. The Lack of respect from the fans and the ignorance of the fact that there was clearly something wrong with Markelle raises some concern. This is way too much pressure to be placed on an upcoming 19-year old kid and should be a good example of how to not treat a professional athlete.