Zion Williamson injury


Staff member
Mar 15, 2023
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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images​

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson, a star player in the NBA, was unable to participate in his team's play-in tournament against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to injury. Despite this, he has faced a lot of criticism for his team's subsequent loss to the Thunder. The Pelicans were eliminated from the playoffs after losing 123-118 to the Thunder in the tournament's first round. Though Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones, and Trey Murphy III scored 20-plus points each, the Thunder's Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's 30-plus point performances gave them the victory and earned them a place in the second round of the tournament against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williamson has faced a number of injuries since being drafted first overall by the Pelicans in 2019. He has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since January 2nd, and it was uncertain whether he would have played in the playoffs had the Pelicans qualified. Fans on Twitter were critical of him for this and his continued injury struggles.

Williamson told reporters the day before the game that he felt physically fine and would return to the court "when I feel like Zion." He also discussed the mental hurdles of rejoining the team for such an important game. Fans have criticized him for this as well. Williamson will not get the chance to rejoin his team this season, raising questions about whether the Pelicans will keep him on board moving forward. The Thunder, meanwhile, are set to play the Timberwolves in another play-in match on Friday and will earn a date with the Denver Nuggets if they win.

Williamson, born in Salisbury, North Carolina, is a professional basketball player for the Pelicans. After playing for Duke Blue Devils for a year, the Pelicans selected him as the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2020 and became the fourth-youngest NBA player to be selected to an All-Star game in 2021. In high school, Williamson was a consensus five-star recruit, led his team to three consecutive state championships, and earned South Carolina Mr. Basketball recognition in his senior season. He left high school as a McDonald's All-American, runner-up for Mr. Basketball USA, and USA Today All-USA first-team honoree.

Williamson was a multi-sport athlete in his youth, playing soccer, football, and basketball. He began focusing on becoming a college basketball star when he was five; at nine years old, he started waking up at 5 a.m. to train. He played in youth leagues, facing opponents four years older than him, with his mother, Sharonda Sampson, coaching him. Williamson also worked with his stepfather, former college basketball player Lee Anderson, to improve his point guard skills. He played for the basketball team at Johnakin Middle School, averaging 20 points per game and losing only three games in two seasons.​