World reacts to ‘freak’ Zion Williamson's historic debut
ZION Williamson made his long-awaited NBA debut for the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday (AEST) and he did not disappoint.
After a lacklustre opening half that had fans hoping they'd see some of the madness he produced during his time in college, Williamson delivered in spades.
Entering the fourth quarter, Williamson had only five points to his name.
But the 19-year-old suddenly found some explosive form and dragged the Pelicans back into the contest, giving them the lead over the San Antonio Spurs.
In the span of 264 seconds, the teenage prodigy recorded 17 points, grabbed three rebounds and handed out three assists.
He finished the contest with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists to his name in only 18 minutes of playing time.
The roof of the Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans almost blew off as the crowd erupted after every single shot from Williamson.
ZION WENT OFF 😳— ESPN (@espn) January 23, 2020
17 points and 4/4 from deep in 3 minutes pic.twitter.com/CfYklzb2Bv
In his scoring outburst, Williamson showed off his range by burying four three-point shots from four attempts, making him the first player in NBA history to 4-4 (or better) on threes in a debut.
His 22 points eclipse the previous record for the New Orleans Pelicans by a player making their debut.
Social media went just as haywire as Williamson began trending across the US under several different topics. All in all, however, everyone was left with the same stunned reaction.
Summary of Zion’s debut: pic.twitter.com/F7J2HsGDU5— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 23, 2020
But fans were left furious when Williamson was taken out of the game with a little over five minutes remaining.
Coach Alvin Gentry later stated it was the medical staff who made the call.
🗣 "We want Zion!"— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) January 23, 2020
Pelicans fans wanted Zion to finish out his incredible 4Q run. pic.twitter.com/Yngyz2ZlB8
A knee injury ruled out NBA No.1 draft pick Williamson from making his debut to start the season, with fans needing to wait three months.
It's continued to pile on the pressure for the 19-year-old to make an instant impact, with pundits calling his first start the most anticipated debut since LeBron James in 2003.
While it's perfectly acceptable for Williamson need at least a little time to become a force in the NBA, it took him just three quarters to feel comfortable.
When he was taken off the floor for his first break just under four minutes into the game with one assist, one shot and no points, it looked like he wasn't going to make much of an impact.
But as the game went on, Williamson seemed to become more comfortable on the floor and started to spread his wings.
The Pelicans eventually fell 121-117 but Williamson had already made a name for himself.
But after a slow start to the game, ESPN commentators Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy spoke about how Williamson looked to be carrying some extra weight.
"Watching him on the court, this just in, he's got to get in better shape," Jackson said.
"He's got to lose some weight and get better in shape. In all fairness to him, I didn't expect to see him in his best shape because he's been off so long but that's what he needs, especially to get to what people expect him to get to."
Van Gundy agreed: "You want to play, when you've got a history of some injuries, as light as you possible can. It gives you the best chance of staying healthy."
"We're talking to the people in New Orleans and they believe he's big boned and that's his natural size," Jackson added. "To me, that's not the case. The lighter the gets, the more explosive he's going to be."
When attention turned to the reports that Williamson lost 3.6kg (eight pounds) in a week, Van Gundy couldn't believe it.
"Hold on, I do not believe for one second that a guy worked out for one week and put on eight pounds of muscle," he said.
"If that's possible, then if he's been working out in the 13 weeks he's been missing, then by my calculation, that's over 100 pounds of muscle you asked him to put on."
Jackson finished: "He will slim down. You can tell why so many people are raving about him. He's a special talent and a freak athlete but he's got to get in better shape and that's going to happen. You don't expect him to be tip-top shape, this is his first NBA action."
While some fans felt Williamson looked "husky", other fans slammed the discussion.
Why are ratings down, we ask as Mark Jackson complains about Zion’s body.— Greg (@gwiss) January 23, 2020
Zion has played 4 minutes and Mark Jackson has already called him out of shape and said he'd rather have Ja Morant— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) January 23, 2020
How Zion Williamson looks vs how Mark Jackson thinks he looks pic.twitter.com/EV3NMz8I2w— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) January 23, 2020
Listening to Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson lecture Zion Williamson on how to become a better athlete is truly incredible— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) January 23, 2020
Mark Jackson essentially called him fat on national TV. Zion will get his revenge!— Steve Daniels (@stevedaniels27) January 23, 2020
No better way to make someone eat their words than dropping an absolute bomb.
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Zion's 17 points in 3 minutes IN HIS NBA DEBUT was as electrifying a scoring burst I can remember since MJ and Kobe were in their primes.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 23, 2020
everyone gonna be taking naps on the bench now after that Zion sequence— Zion Wobinson (@WorldWideWob) January 23, 2020
Zion caught fire in the 4th QTR 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/brmQDigI46— Handles (@HandlesNBATV) January 23, 2020
The league is going to be better for having Zion in it. I can’t wait to see what he does in the years to come.— Greg (@gwiss) January 23, 2020
Come on Gentry we want Zion!!! 🤬🤬🤬— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) January 23, 2020
The took Zion out after he got hot smh lol— Famouslos32 (@famouslos32) January 23, 2020