METAIRIE, LA (WLOX) - We all knew he was coming it was just a matter of when. After being selected number one overall by the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, Zion Williamson returned to New Orleans, this time to be introduced as a new member of the team.
“I’m still taking it in. I’ve dreamt about having my name called by commissioner since I was a little kid and for him to call my name first meant even more to me," Williamson told WLOX. "To have my family and friends there to support me I think made that moment much better.”
Many felt that a player of Zion’s caliber would be best suited for a bigger city, a New York or an L.A. , but Zion has learned early on that he can shine anywhere.
“Zion stayed at a small school for high school, Spartanburg Academy, because his mother told him if you can play, the coaches will find you anywhere," David Griffin, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations, said. "You stay grounded, you stay with your friends and you be Zion.”
A generational talent with an outgoing personality, marketing Zion will be easy, but he isn’t your average 18-year-old rookie as he’s already making veteran moves.
A reporter during his introductory press conference asked Zion how many text messages had come through his phone the last 24 hour after being drafted. The 6′8″, 280-pound rookie’s reply was priceless.
“Well, if I’m being honest, not too many because I recently changed my phone number!", Williamson said.
Zion is a perfect fit for a small market like New Orleans, not just because of his freakish athletic abilities, but his character as well.
“He’s a tremendous guy and he’s all about the team," Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told WLOX. "You don’t get to coach guys like this very often and when you’re lucky enough to have a generational player like that you’re going to be able to coach, you relish the honor of being able to coach a guy like that.”
The Pelicans have driven home the concept of family, a word that resonates with the basketball phenom to his core. David Griffin has reiterated that Zion is not the savior of the franchise, allowing his young superstar to develop at his own pace.
“Jrue Holiday is the face of this franchise," Griffin said. "He is that dude, this is his team, and we’re all going to be made of the same stuff.”
“I look at things from a realistic point of view," Williamson told the local media at his introductory press conference on Friday.
"I think people are kind of doing a bit much. I am 18, I haven’t even played one game yet, so I look at it just like that. I’m just trying to come contribute to the team and whatever the vets need me to do I’m ready to do it.”