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76ers' Markelle Fultz, Kings' De'Aaron Fox are friends beyond basketball

The two first-round draft picks played in high school all-star events and in AAU games.

Markelle Fultz is good friends with Kings first-round pick De’Andre Fox.
Markelle Fultz is good friends with Kings first-round pick De’Andre Fox.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

The Kings beat the Sixers on Nov. 9 in Sacramento thanks to a game-winning shot from De'Aaron Fox, the No. 5 overall pick in last June's draft, out of Kentucky.

That didn't stop Sixers rookie and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz from liking a post on Twitter showing a replay of Fox's shot.

Even though Fultz is from Maryland and Fox went to high school in Texas, the two have been friends for years. They knew each other growing up, playing AAU against each other, and both played in the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic in 2016 as high school stars.

"A game is not going to tear our friendship apart," Fox said Tuesday before the Kings played the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center. "But when we're on the floor, it's nothing but competing against each other."

Fultz, who has been sidelined for most of the season with shoulder issues, has yet to face his friend in NBA action but Fox is confident that Fultz will return and be just as great as projected. He said he will be watching closely and keeping in contact.

"You definitely see what everyone else is doing and keep an eye on it," Fox said. "I saw 'Kelle yesterday. It's been great, this rookie class, how close we are and we still go out and compete against each other."

Brown, Joerger swap war stories

It's not just the Kings and Sixers players who have a connection outside of facing each other.

Sixers coach Brett Brown and Kings coach Dave Joerger also have known each other for a long time and have mutual respect for each other.

"I don't like him, I love him," Joerger said Tuesday. "He's a good dude. He's a straight shooter. When I was in the minor leagues, I got a chance to go with the Spurs' summer league team and he was the head coach. I got to know him."

Joerger coached in the developmental league (now the G-League) before becoming assistant coach and then head coach of the Grizzles before heading to Sacramento. He said that, when he worked with Brown, he enjoyed being able to pick Brown's brain and learn from his extensive international experience.

Brown said he has spoken with Joerger about the struggles of coaching and developing a young team. Other coaches, such as Chicago Bulls coach Fred Holberg, have reached out to Brown for similar reasons and Brown said he just tries to give the same advice that was given to him.

"You go through the league and talk to Kenny Atkinson, Fred in Chicago — those programs that are going through some of the things that we've gone through," he said. "And, like people did with me, you try to help them where you can."