On July 7, The Shadow League wrote about how unfortunate, inexplicable and inexcusable it was for Zion Williamson to come into his first Summer League game out of shape.
You have a kid at the center of the basketball universe, with all eyes on how he conducts himself and performs. Instead of being in shape and ready to attack the world as a new face of the NBA, similar to how LeBron James did back in 2003 Summer League, Zion showed up out of shape. To the point that GM David Griffin and the Pelicans shut him down for the rest of Summer League play.
It was embarrassing for the organization and a bit discrediting to Zion’s early legacy.
The heralded rookie probably shouldn’t have been out there in the first place. His former Coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski agrees.
New York Post on Twitter
Coach K: Zion Williamson wasn’t in shape to play Summer League https://t.co/uU48Uq0FYX
“No. I thought really he never should’ve played just because he’s been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything, I don’t think he’s in playing shape or mental shape to play,” Coach K insisted.
Jalen Rose detailed how Zion dropped the ball on ESPN this morning, by pointing out that Duke didn’t make the Final Four so Zion’s season ended prematurely. He didn’t go hard practicing after that as not to jeopardize his draft status. Then, Rose says he saw Zion muff a dunk at a Pelicans practice, which implied to him and those in attendance, that the No. 1 overall pick was out of shape.
His brief Summer League debut confirmed it.
Rose also blamed the Pelicans for not protecting their investment as Memphis has done by not allowing No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant to participate in the Summer League.
New Orleans was too thirsty to start milking The Zion Effect and filling its coffers. It exposed their franchise player and tainted his market value before he ever got to play an NBA game.
Zion will undoubtedly recover from this, but the way things have transpired, the word “bust” is already surfacing and being associated with Zion’s name.
That’s also to be expected.
When a player generates as much money and electricity and excitement at the college level as Zion did, expectations are always going to be through the roof. He should have known that. I guess we saw the first sign of Zion’s immaturity. He’s handled the celebrity so well up to this point, but he is human. And despite his physical stature, still a kid. It’s Ok. He’s human and it doesn’t mean he won’t develop into a great basketball player and leader.
But he was definitely caught slipping and maybe this was the smack back to reality for a young buck who’s been riding a historic wave of celebrity, hype, and anticipation.