"What people don't understand is, even the writers and stuff, if they have children of their own, imagine if somebody talked about their child how they spoke about me," Williamson told FOX Sports. "Critiquing my body, critiquing how I look. Every time they talked about me, it was about weight, how bad I looked. I don't even think they realized what kind of impact that can have on you."
Explaining his weight gain
What probably hurt Williamson more is how the media and fans came to differing conclusions about why his weight shot up.
Some even questioned his commitment to the game and asked if he was dedicated to recovering from his injuries. The 22-year-old reasoned that sustaining the foot injury prevented him from working out and getting his body in the right condition.
"That's nasty because with a lower-body injury, that dictates how you walk, that dictates how you run, how you do everyday activities and how you move," Williamson said. "For the world to critique me like that and all I was trying to do was make sure my foot was straight? It was a lot. I'm not going to lie to you — It was a lot."
Fortunately, the rising star had the right people around him, such as Pelicans head coach Willie Green and assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon, who kept encouraging him and helped him get back on track.
Getting his body right
Williamson is now near his optimal weight (below 290 lbs) and already dominating the competition. He is currently averaging 23.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game, helping New Orleans to a 5-5 standing.
In addition, the Duke University product has shown his dedication to ensuring that his body is in the right condition. He even agreed to some stipulations in his contract extension, which he signed in the past offseason, that included weight and body fat targets.
Williamson's fans are likely thrilled that the former No. 1 pick has used the criticism as motivation to improve himself and become a better basketball player. But the fact that the comments initially affected him shows that NBA players are human beings, too. Something we often forget.