Rod Walker: Zion Williamson holding himself accountable a step in right direction

Zion Williamson's return is nowhere in sight. Pelicans star listed as out against Knicks.
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Inevitably, the only thing Zion Williamson will be judged by is what he does on the basketball court.

Anything he said or did last week in Las Vegas won’t mean a thing if it doesn’t transfer over into him playing in 65-plus games for the New Orleans Pelicans this season.

But the past seven days, particularly his words on a podcast with former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, spoke volumes about where Zion’s head is this offseason.

He showed the type of accountability you want to see, but more importantly need to see, from a face of the franchise player whose first four NBA seasons have been plagued by one frustrating injury after another.

“Like Coach (Mike) K(rzyzewski) taught me, I have to own up to my responsibilities,” said Williamson, referring to his college coach at Duke. “There are a lot of things I could have done better. I didn’t. I’m in the process of fixing those wrongs.”

The fact that Zion knows there are things he needs to improve on to reach his potential is a good sign. Fortunately for both him and Pelicans fans, there is still time to fix those wrongs he talked about.

After all, he just turned 23 last week.

The light bulb, based on this latest interview, seems to have turned all the way on for him.

Here’s my best guess on why it took so long.

From the time Zion first picked up a basketball, he always has been better than everyone else on the court with him. He could outscore, out-jump, out-anything all the other nine guys out there.

The NBA, as he has come to find out since being taken with the first overall pick of the 2019 draft, doesn’t work that way.

As a result, he’ll have to be locked in more than ever if he wants to reach all of those expectations that were placed on his broad shoulders when he was just a teenager.

“It’s that invincibility trait,” Williamson said on the podcast. “When you’re young, you feel like can’t nothing stop you.”

Having watched him play for four seasons, the only thing that has even been able to even slow him down is injuries.

The injuries have not only frustrated him but they’ve also frustrated many in the Pelicans’ fanbase. So much so that many have wanted to see the team part ways with Zion this offseason. It’s also caused some, especially the national media, to doubt Zion’s commitment to the franchise. That includes a narrative of Zion not having a close relationship with his teammates.

He did his part to dismiss that Tuesday when he showed up to the Pelicans’ Summer League game and sat beside teammate Larry Nance Jr. A day earlier, Nance went on Twitter to defend Williamson from some of those narratives questioning his work ethic.

“I don’t understand the constant attempt to drag Z’s name,” Nance tweeted. “I’m in the gym with this dude all season and he’s consistently putting in work on his touch, jumper, and skill shots. These dudes need to stop putting out fake stories just for clicks.”

Zion, of course, could help with some of that by shutting down any false narratives himself. Other than his few brief remarks at an event in June when he donated $250,000 to Jefferson Parish Schools, Zion hadn’t spoken publicly since April 11 when he fielded questions from local media.

So the appearance on last week’s podcast said a lot. He was about as transparent as he’s ever been about some of the struggles he’s gone through since arriving in the NBA. He talked about the difficulties of trying to eat healthy.

“It’s hard, man,” Williamson said. “When you’re 20 (years old), 22. Have all the money in the world. It feels like all the money in the world. It’s hard.”

To make things easier, he said he is surrounding himself with wisdom. He is listening to the people who have been where he’s been. He’s counting on the ones who are telling him what he needs to hear and not just what he wants to hear.

“I can say I respect brutal honesty,” Williamson said. “I’d rather somebody be brutally honest with me than sugarcoat it.”

He’s paying closer attention to the greats who have come before him.

He talked about the blueprint that LeBron James, entering his 21st NBA season, has set. And he also quoted the great Michael Jordan.

“As MJ said, when you take care of what you gotta take care of on the court, everything else is going to fall into place,” Williamson said.

So now we wait for the season to start to see whether Zion can stay healthy enough to handle his business on the court.

While that remains to be seen, we do know this: Zion is saying all the right things and taking ownership of all that has gone wrong thus far.

It’s a huge step in the right direction.

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About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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