Before he played a second at Duke, Zion Williamson had more followers than most NBA players. His high school videos had millions of views, as Zion dunked on anyone who got in the way all the time. But one of his most viewed videos has no dunks. Not only that – Zion’s not even the star of the clip. That title goes to a 5’6 kid with a lot of heart.
The checklist for guarding Zion starts with physical attributes. You usually pick the largest guy on your team who has a chance of keeping up with Zion’s speed (most teams don’t have that guy). So Williamson is used to getting that guy for a matchup, and high-school was no different. So when a skinny 5’6 kid picked him up, Zion was confused.
“I’ll never forget that. That was our rival. It’s like late third, maybe fourth quarter. We’re up 30 at this point. We’re out of a time out, and he starts walking over to me. I’m like, ‘No way. You’re not about to do this.‘ When he comes over and starts clapping, I kid you not. If you saw me, I look to the right to our principal and our track and field coach. I looked at those two, and I was like ‘Are they serious?’”Zion Williamson, Old Man & The Three
Zion manhandling Tristan Thompson, Rudy Gobert, and other grown men as he pleases makes the Pelicans a must-watch. Even in the NBA, most guys make a business decision and just get out of the way. But matching up with Zion in high school? Kids knew they were about to end up on Instagram and gave up before the play started. That’s why Zion holds this young player in high esteem.
“What people don’t know, I’ve got a lot of respect for him for doing that. His teammates were so out of it; he was just trying to give them energy. For him to be the one to come out and do that, I’ve got nothing but respect.”Zion Williamson, Old Man & The Three
That’s a great point. At that point in the game, there was no chance his team would come back, and the young man knew the most likely outcome was he’s going to get ridiculed after Zion dunks on him. (He actually fouled Zion as soon as possible). Despite all that, he went out and tried to motivate his teammates not to give up.
We spend so much time ridiculing players that get posterize and let the guys who don’t even try to make the defensive play off the hook. That needs to change. That’s why Zion has nothing but respect for the guys who put up a fight. So should you.