Something big is about to go down in the NBA, the much-anticipated start of last year’s No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson. The 19-year-old basketball star, who played one season for Duke, has been recovering from a torn meniscus and is finally cleared to play this Wednesday at home as the Pelicans face off against the San Antonio Spurs. Zion’s start is to the NBA what Beyonce’s Ivy Park drop was to Instagram. It’s everything. No Zion’s professional debut might not garner celebs posting with orange wardrobe boxes, but the sports world has awaited Zion’s debut like the Beyhive anticipated the Queen’s Adidas collab.
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to get sleep. I’ll be too excited thinking about my first NBA game.-Zion Williamson to ESPN
So why the hoopla over the new guy? Well, Zion’s considered a potential generational talent like Michael Jordan or LeBron James. But unlike Jordan and James, Zion’s every move and dunk has been documented on film since he was a tween playing with fellow rookie Ja Morant on an A.A.U. team in South Carolina. Since then, Williamson has been dunking his way into viral video fame and singlehandedly set the Duke resale ticket market on fire. Fans reported driving upwards of 400 miles to see the phenom play and the highest ticket price reported was $10,652. For the record, you could buy Beyonce’s entire Ivy Park line for less. That is if you got your hands on it before it sold out.
Zion’s debut is sure to sell out, too. But don’t expect the 19-year-old to get flustered under the spotlight. Though he admits he might be a bit amped the night before the game saying, “Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to get sleep,” he confessed that he’s not nervous. He’s just excited to play.
Everybody gets so caught up in the game itself. I look at the intangibles. And he seems like he has great intangibles and seems like a great kid. -LeBron James on Zion Williamson
And while he admitted that recovering from his October 21st surgery was a mental challenge saying, “There’s a lot of times when I wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs because it’s frustrating,” he’s focused on playing Wednesday. “This is my first NBA game,” he said. “This is business now.”
And with the Pelicans just shy of a playoff spot, Zion’s debut couldn’t come at a more perfect time.