NBA Narrative Clout Chasers Owe Zion Williamson An Apology

There’s a large contingent of people, starting with FS1 talking head Shannon Sharpe, who owe Zion Williamson an apology.

After salivating over “The Zion Effect” and hyping him as an unmatched NBA talent, by the time Summer League rolled around, respected basketball heads were questioning Zion’s weight, his ability, his desire…everything about the kid who was a revenue-generating cash cow for Duke and captivated everyone in the country with his explosiveness, strength, and athleticism. 

12 games into his NBA career, the big guy is averaging 22.8 points and 7.2 boards and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field while shooting almost 42 percent from 3-point range, including four treys in his debut game.

Zion hasn’t conducted himself as an unsure rookie. He’s not struggling to defend wing players as some suggested and he’s getting buckets with the poise of a veteran.  

Zion isn’t easing into his role as NBA superstar, human highlight film and showstopper. He’s not showing signs that he needs to mature or that his game is offensively limited. Zion won’t be traded after two slow years like teammate Lonzo Ball — a former No. 2 overall pick by the Lakers who fell short — either.  

In fact, since his arrival, the Pelicans are 7-5 and way more competitive, and he’s already doing shit that Jordan did. IJS…

With Williamson’s 28-point game against Golden State on Sunday night, it gave the rookie four straight 25-plus point games of at least 57 percent shooting. Michael Jordan was the last rookie to have recorded such a number in the same span (via Stat Muse).

Let’s see if all of the Zion haters will admit that they were wrong about him — so far. At least as far as him being an All-Star force right away. The verdict is still out on whether or not he can stay healthy. 

Seth Greenberg said Zion won’t stay healthy. He can’t carry his weight. Zion said that he was working on ways to land better after his dunks to save the strain on his springs. Some people laughed at the notion that he was relearning aspects of his game that had already elevated him to No. 1 in the NBA Draft and a multi-million dollar sneaker deal with Jordan Brand. A generational talent.  

Zion added fuel to the fire and disappointed some folks when he showed up for the first NBA Summer League game severely out of shape and left with a knee bruise. The Pelicans shut him down for the Summer, and then Zion had to have knee surgery that would sideline him for much of the first half of his rookie season. 

Zion’s absence opened the floodgates for speculation, opinion, and pessimism. It’s what sells in this social media mosh pit. His believers, however, kept the faith and Zion is proving to be something special.

He’s been everything the Pelicans can ask for under the circumstances. The threat of injury is always going to be there, but if Zion stays focused on his conditioning and eating properly and continues to seek new ways to improve his agility and reduce potential injuries, then we are in for quite a show as this 19-year-old continues to grow and gain confidence. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.