The Zion era didn’t exactly jump off the way fans and sports pundits thought it would. After all, the North Carolina-born phenom was coming off a torn meniscus that was originally supposed to cost him six to eight weeks. Due to the precarious handling of him by his professional organization, the New Orleans Pelicans, he was forced to sit out 13 weeks.
During that span, while Williamson watched fellow rookies like Ja Morant and Kedrick Nunn establish themselves, the former All-American was saddled and scrutinized for his gait, the way he stands and the way he lands. Many thought — and still think — he was an injury risk and would never live up to his full potential.
Well, as of Thursday morning, Jan. 23, Williamson is the only person in NBA history who can lay claim to having gone 4-4 from distance in his debut. That includes every player who has ever laced ’em up. After a torrid stretch of three quarters, where he was pulled in and out of the lineup like a piece of bait on a fishing pole, he caught fire in the fourth and final period. Williamson scored 17 straight points to end the night with 22 points and seven rebounds.
It was undoubtedly the most electric three minutes and eight seconds of the NBA season. While Williamson helped the Pelicans overcome a double-digit deficit during that stretch he was one the floor, they lost the contest 121-117.
Medical restrictions will prevent Williamson from playing extensively. For the time being, it is something he and his supporters will have to begrudgingly comply with.
“It’s very hard,” Williamson told reporters after the game, according to ESPN. “I’m 19. Honestly, in that moment, I’m not thinking about longevity. I’m thinking about winning the game. So it was very tough.”
Watch the full highlights of Zion’s debut after the jump.