‘He Looks Like Me & Shaq Had A Baby’ | Charles Barkley Clowns Zion Willamson’s Weight, But He Also Feels His Pain

Is There A Trust Issue Between Zion And The Pelicans?

The New Orleans Pelicans are 1-7 to start the season, and their young superstar Zion Williamson has yet to suit up.

Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who knows a thing or two about weight gain, said someone in New Orleans needs to tell Zion to get in shape.

Barkley is uniquely qualified to have an opinion on the Zion situation. On a recent episode of TNT’s Inside the NBA, after initially making light of the situation while joking with fellow Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, Barkley got serious.

Like Zion, Barkley was super athletic and explosive for his size. 6’6″ and 270 ish. But he struggled with weight issues early in his career. One of his nicknames was The Round Mound of Rebound.

When Barkley was a rookie in Philadelphia, his veteran star teammate Moses Malone, told him he was “fat and lazy.” Barkley said he cried, but took it to heart.

He obviously overcame his weight issues and had a tremendous career.  11X All-NBA, 11X All-Star, League MVP, Hall of Fame. Chuck was one of the greatest players ever.

Real talk is what Barkley thinks Zion needs. Someone inside the Pelicans’ organization to get through to Zion. The problem is, there is no 10-year veteran and three-time MVP like Malone. Zion pretty much has the keys to that franchise.

Former veteran teammate JJ Redick, on a recent ESPN conference call, said Pelicans fans should be worried.

Williamson is still recovering from surgery he had to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. It’s an injury suffered sometime over the summer that the public and basketball media was not made aware of until late September during Pelicans media day.

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Pictures and videos of Zion have been making their rounds on social media with many people noting the increased body weight of the young forward.

Rumors are swirling that Zion is weighing in at more than 300 pounds.

ESPN’s Andrew Lopez reports Zion is “progressing” in his recovery but is not cleared for contact yet. He will have scans reevaluated in another two to three weeks to determine the next steps in his ability to play.

This is Zion’s second lower-body injury in his three NBA seasons. He had a torn meniscus in his first rookie season and now the foot fracture in his third.

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Zion is a unique athlete given his strength, size and athleticism. The force at which he pushes into the Earth and explodes off the floor is unlike anything we’ve seen. With that, there needs to be special care and consideration.

Something is going on in New Orleans in the relationship between the Pelicans and Team Zion. It is highly unlikely that Zion doesn’t have access to the best sports science and medicine people.

Why is his conditioning and weight gain such an issue?

If he’s recovering from surgery, given his body type, someone has to be telling him he needs to be mindful of his diet. But that message apparently isn’t getting through.

We know the Pelicans are worried about Zion turning down the rookie extension and going into restricted free agency in 2023. Every decision that David Griffin and the front office have been making would be to appease Zion and prevent the worst case scenario.

But at what cost?

It seems as though there is a trust issue here. Does Zion believe the Pelicans have his best interests in mind? What reasons does he have not to believe that?

Redick, who said Pelicans fans should be concerned about Zion, blasted the team’s front office, earlier this year, after allegedly going back on a trade promise they made.

“I don’t think you’re going to get honesty from that front office, just objectively speaking,” Reddick said. “That’s not an opinion — I just don’t think you’re going to get that.

Zion was obviously aware of this situation. He and Redick were teammates and are Duke basketball alumni. Do we think this incident is playing a role in any trust issues between Zion and the Pelicans?

The entire Zion Williamson-New Orleans Pelicans situation seems murky at best. The injuries, the long-term uncertainty, three head coaches in three years. None of it seems stable.

Most importantly for Pelicans fans as it relates to this season, there is no certainty on when Zion will play again.