All eyes are on Zion and the Knicks.
Zion Williamson seemed almost destined to go No. 1 overall to the Knicks in the 2019 NBA Draft, but much to the chagrin of Knicks fans around the globe, the Pelicans lucked out, winning the draft lottery and selecting Williamson.
On Sunday, Williamson played his first professional game at MSG, a 122-112 losing effort to the Knicks, but the budding superstar couldn’t help but beam when asked what it was like playing in the world’s most famous arena.
“I’m glad you asked that, actually,” Williamson said with a massive grin. “New York is the Mecca of basketball. I love playing here. I played here in college, this is my first time playing here in the pros. I mean, this atmosphere, whether they’re cheering for you or whether booing for you, it’s amazing.
“Honestly, I think — outside of New Orleans, obviously — I think this might be my favorite place to play outside of New Orleans. I can’t even lie to you. I can’t lie to you.”
Williamson couldn’t hide his ear-to-ear smile and even the “outside of New Orleans” bit seemed a bit, well, cliché in delivery. Could this be a dog whistle for Knicks fans? (They hope.)
Reports suggested the then-Duke prodigy was upset when the Pelicans were named winner of the 2019 draft lottery, wishing that New York landed the No. 1 pick instead. The Knicks ended up with the No. 3 overall pick and selected Williamson’s former Duke runningmate, RJ Barrett.
Zion Williamson was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery. Source said the former Duke star was rooting to go to New York, but now is going to New Orleans.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) May 15, 2019
New York, always in search of the next Big Apple star, has played well above expectations in 2020-21, the first season under coach Tom Thibodeau. After their win vs. New Orleans — the Knicks are 3-0 vs. Zion and the Pels this year — they sit at sixth in the Eastern Conference and are on a six-game winning streak.
With Barrett and one of the NBA’s most improved players in Julius Randle, the Knicks may seem to finally be righting the ship.
Could that ship be one that Zion wants to board? Time will tell.