NEW YORK - The inevitable was made official Thursday night when the 76ers selected Markelle Fultz with the first pick of the NBA draft.
There was no suspense in selecting Fultz. The Sixers had their sights set on drafting him for some time. It became a foregone conclusion that they would draft the Washington point guard after moving up two spots in a trade Monday with the Boston Celtics.
But the lack of suspense didn't take away the excitement of Fultz's becoming the Sixers' second No. 1 pick in as many seasons and fourth overall, joining Ben Simmons (2016), Allen Iverson (1996), and Doug Collins (1973).
The 19-year-old's eyes were still red from shedding tears of joy as he addressed the media.
"In high school, I told my trainer Keith [Williams] I wanted to be the No. 1 player in the country and the No. 1 draft pick," Fultz said. "So it was a goal I set out there, and that I was striving for."
For Fultz, this was definitely a milestone moment.
He became the first player with ties to Prince George's County, Md. and from his university to be selected first overall in an NBA draft. The 19-year-old also became the 23rd graduate of DeMatha Catholic High to be drafted.
'Right now, it's unbelievable, really," Fultz said of the experience. "I mean, say you want to do something, and to go out and do it is unbelievable."
But he wasn't just elated for himself. The native of Upper Marlboro, Md., wants to provide for his mother, Ebony, and older sister, Shauntese. As the first overall pick, Fultz is slated to make $5.8 million next season. However, the Sixers can decide to pay him 20 percent more than that, and most likely will.
"I get a chance to take care of my family, and I get to do something a lot of kids want to do," Fultz said. "So . . . like I say, I'm blessed."
The 76ers acquired another center in a trade late in the first round. The Orlando Magic drafted 7-foot-2 Latvian post player Anzejs Pasecniks with the 25th pick and traded him to the Sixers for a future first-round pick. The pick is a protected 2020 first-rounder.
In the second round, the Sixers selected Australian power forward Josh Bolden with the 36th pick. Then they traded their 39th pick to the Los Angeles Clippers, reportedly for cash. With the 46th pick, the Sixers drafted SMU shooting guard Sterling Brown, who reportedly will be traded to the Bucks. They finished the night by selecting French forward Mathias Lessort with the 50th pick.
Fultz's mother and sister took in the moment with him. The three shared the green room table with Williams, former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, former Washington assistant Raphael Chillious, and Fultz's agent, Raymond Brothers.
Meanwhile, his high school coach, Mike Jones, was outside the green room for the draft. He was with Fultz on his way to the media room.
"I was very excited, obviously," Jones said. "It was expected, but you never know until his name gets called. Ultimately, I'm so happy for him and his family. I got my Philadelphia T-shirts and hats, and I'm ready to put one on."
The Sixers gave away a future first-round pick to make sure they got the most complete player in the draft. Fultz is also the best option to pair with Simmons and Joel Embiid. The Sixers have said that Simmons, who missed his rookie season with a broken foot, will be the team's primary ball handler.
So one of the biggest questions is: Will Fultz continue to be a point guard, move off the ball, or share duties with Simmons?
"Really, it's just do whatever you need to do to win," Fultz said. "It's going to be times when maybe Ben brings up the ball or times where I'm bringing up the ball. It's going to do whatever we need to do to win."
The Celtics sent that pick to the Sixers for the No. 3 overall pick and the protected Los Angeles Lakers' first-rounder in 2018, which the Sixers owned. The Celtics will get the pick if it falls in slots 2-5 in next year's NBA draft lottery. If it does not, Boston will receive either the Sacramento Kings' or the Sixers' first-round pick in 2019. The Celtics would take whichever one is more favorable. But if either of those picks becomes the first overall, the Celtics will receive the other pick.
"Markelle is a tremendous athlete," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "He's a tremendous young man. I think he is going to fit the culture of this organization."
Fultz made 41.3 percent of his shots from the college three-point line. Finding a shooter with his three-point- shooting skill and the ability to play off the ball was a priority for the Sixers.
Fultz said his versatility is what made him the best player in the draft.
"I mean, I don't think it's one thing I can't do," he said. "I think I do everything at least decent, and that's what I think."
Fultz said Wednesday that he planned to play for the Sixers in the summer leagues.