Zion Williamson Is Healthier And Richer | $231M For 85 Games Of Service Is The Definition Of Winning 

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson has only played in 85 games in his three seasons in the NBA. During that time, he became the only player to average 25 points per game on 60 percent shooting, including a 2021 season where he averaged 27 points per game on nearly 62 percent from the floor. But the injury bug has been a problem for the burly but nimble Williamson, who turned 22 on Wednesday.

This birthday was much better than last year’s. On this birthday Williamson signed a five-year rookie max deal worth up to $231 million. It’s a tremendous improvement over 21st, where he found out he had a broken foot that required multiple surgeries.

 

 

 Williamson spoke at a press conference at the New Orleans YMCA. 

“On my birthday last year is when I found out I broke my foot. I was out the whole year. It was a tough year. For the Pelicans to come give me this birthday gift, I’m not going to let them down. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m not going to let my family down. And most of all, I’m not going to let myself down. So just thank you.”

Williamson was surrounded by his family and signed his deal with a big smile, the likes of which we’ve not seen from the former Duke star in a while.

“I want to thank my family. I want to thank the YMCA. I want to thank the city of New Orleans. I want to thank all of you up here especially Ms. Gayle Benson. I just want to say thank you for believing in me. Just giving a kid like me a chance to showcase my abilities and help bring the team, hopefully, multiple championships. But most of all, thank y’all for really sticking with me the past year.”

Williamson Talked About The False Narratives Surrounding Him And His Family While Injured

During his presser, Williamson talked about dismissing the false narratives created while he was injured. A relieved Zion seemed to be happy to get this off his chest.

“The last few months have been an emotional roller-coaster of emotions. The world just ran with narratives, and so when my family was going out in public, they’re getting harassed by people about why we don’t like New Orleans or why we don’t want to be here, when that’s not the case at all.”

“I wasn’t able to play because my foot was broke. Every time I checked my phone … always something negative. Even when you’re trying to make positive of the situation, it was very tough.”

Williamson also told the general public that if they want the truth, then just ask him and not everyone else.

“I told the world if they ever wanna know if I want to be here, just ask me,” Zion said.

 

 

Well based on his excitement at Wednesday’s presser, Zion definitely wants to be in Nawlins. The allure may have been money, good eats or the opportunity to create his own legacy in a franchise that doesn’t have much illustrious history. 

Zion Will Team With Brandon Ingram And CJ McCollum To Form A Dynamic Big 3

While Zion was injured last season, teammate and former Dukie himself Brandon Ingram ascended to stardom. The slender bucket-getter probably should’ve been an All-Star for the second time after making it in 2020. And although he was passed over (probably because of the team’s record) he still averaged 22.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game on 46 percent shooting.

The Pelicans traded for Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who ignited a second-half push into a playoff spot. New Orleans’ new “Big 3” provides gifted head coach Willie Green with some top-tier talent and a quality group of role players.

McCollum is the leader the Pelicans lacked, and he showed it when he stood up for Zion as folks asked about his desire. The former Lehigh star point blank said “Leave the young fella alone!”

“Leave The Young Fella Alone”| CJ McCollum Assumes Leadership, Defends Zion

 

That’s a welcome sight for Green, who’s going into his second season on the bench.