Zion Williamson isn’t about to start stressing about NBA pundits and critics who say he needs to lose some weight if he wants to have a long, productive NBA career.
In a podcast interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Williamson said he has heard critiques of his conditioning his entire life.
“There’s really no comparison to me. I try to add every level to my game,” said Williamson, who had an impressive NBA debut for the Pelicans in their Wednesday night loss to the Spurs. “My body is just built different. Some people try to look at it as a weakness, but I look at it as a blessing.
“People aren’t used to guarding this kind of size and I’m able to add a little finesse to my game so it has flavor and I’m a playmaker so I can create for my teammates and when I have to finish I’m gonna finish.”
ESPN analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson caught some heat on social media for criticizing the weight of Williamson, who missed the season’s first 44 games due to meniscus surgery in October. The network also flashed a graphic of Williamson’s weight during the game.
It wasn’t the first time this year Williamson’s weight was a subject of concern. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Nike, who signed the rookie sensation, was concerned about his physical condition, according to a Bleacher Report story in October.
Whether the criticism the ESPN voices received for the comments were fair or not, Van Gundy did have some praise for Williamson after the game.
“I love (his) vision and the passing,” Van Gundy said on Scott Van Pelt’s “SportsCenter” show. “The quickness of the second jump. The jump shot, I don’t know. I haven’t seen him enough to know exactly what he is as a player.”
Williamson, who exploded for 17 consecutive points in New Orleans’ 121-117 defeat, finished with 22 points with seven rebounds and three assists.
“It was nice to experience those emotions,” Williamson said after the game. “I was happy to be out there and be able to run out there again, but what was going through my mind was just, ‘Be calm.’”
Fans wanted to see more, but coach Alvin Gentry said he couldn’t heed their chants of “We want Zion!,” during the final five minutes of a the loss.
“The medical people said that was it,” Gentry said, alluding to precautionary restrictions placed on Williamson’s playing time in the early days of his return to action.
“Me, personally, I don’t want any restrictions,” Williamson said. “But I’m not a doctor or a trainer, so I’ve just got to listen to them.”
— with AP