Zion Williamson came into the league with the highest approval rating of a rookie in my lifetime. The smile, the humility, the power - you couldn't help but root for the guy. It's been over two years since that debut, and there is a growing consensus that babyfaced Zion is as entitled and diva-esque as they come. Or he could be an average 21-year old kid carving his way through a brutal business.
Both sides point to an imminent departure from New Orleans. Here's the newest on Zion.
This led to one of the most respected former players and new analysts to provide insight that only he could give.
CJ to the defense
But since that news broke, Zion crossed the bridge leading C.J McCollum to clear the air.
"Leave the young fella alone, man. He's trying to rehab in peace, trying to get himself ready to come back," McCollum told ESPN reporters.
CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans twitter
"He's a very talented player," McCollum continued. "He's going through a lot. You guys are putting him on the spot on the daily and I think he's just trying to recover on his own time and really focus on his rehab. I've been injured before, so I know what it's like. You feel disconnected. You feel a way. You wish you could be out there. And it's tough, mentally and physically. It's tough on the body. And you gotta read about yourself all the time. I know it's frustrating. But I've got a lot of respect for him. We're going to get along very well and continue to build a relationship and I'll be here for him when he needs it."
The entitlement of Zion?
The bar of player entitlement has dropped to new lows with every passing year. I can still remember when LeBron James was called the biggest' cry baby' in league history for leaving an undeserving Cavaliers franchise to join his friends in sunny Miami. It's also not a coincidence that the two most entitled players in the league, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, were both first overall picks.
If Zion was trying to force himself out of a situation, he is definitely following the blueprint to a T. Rocks up to training camp completely out of shape or in other words, pulls a 'James Harden.' Check. He gets injured then loses complete contact with all teammates. Let's call this the 'Kawhi Leonard.' Also, check. Based on reports that the Pelicans sent out 2022-23 season ticket promotions without a mere mention of Zion, means there is likely confrontation behind the scenes. I'll call that one the 'Anthony Davis mystery.' Wow, look, another first overall pick that feuded with the Pelicans' front office unbeknownst to the public at the time…
All these players left by force, but the transition was never pretty.
But Zion is, after all, a 21-old kid whose been playing competitive basketball at a high level since he was 12. Injuries and isolations are never easy. It doesn't matter who you are. He can show out his new pot belly in Mountain Dew commercials all he wants because the guy is still a superstar.
But sympathy aside, all tales point to a kid who's screaming to leave New Orleans but can't. After three coaches in two seasons, a staff that wasn't checking up on him during a hungry break, and a co-star in B.I. that thinks he runs the team - you can see his point.