Zion Williamson left the game 33 seconds in after his Nike sneaker, basically exploded! He hurt his knee and was not cleared to return. Following the injury, it felt like the energy was sapped out of both the Cameron Indoor crowd and the Duke team.
It really is a shame. Most importantly, you never want to see anyone get hurt, especially someone as fun to watch as Zion Williamson in such a hyped up game. I have said for a couple of days that I felt UNC would win this game and that feels like a hollow prediction now, given that Zion is out. But is Zion worth the 16 point deficit? Tar Heels shot 2-20 and turn the ball over 16 times and still win. They were led by Luke Maye, who was amazing, with 30 points and 15 rebounds.
I know Duke was thrown off by the Zion injury and perhaps thrown out of sorts a bit and there’s no way to prove UNC would have won anyways, but regardless, this is a great win for the Tar Heels who completely dominated from beginning to end. These teams meet again in Chapel Hill in the final regular season game of the year on March 9.
ENOUGH with the “Zion should sit takes”
First of all, Zion Williamson should do whatever he wants and ignore the noise of what the ESPN talking heads say, what the twitter folks say, and what former players who were outspoken last night say. Zion shouldn’t listen to anyone but himself.
That said, I’m not suggesting what he should do but rather what I believe Zion will ultimately do. I think For those who say “why would he ever play again” I have a few reasons why, in my opinion, he will.
- For one, he is going to be the #1 pick in the draft. Nothing will change that. Kyrie Irving played 7 games at Duke and still went #1. Kenyon Martin broke his leg in March, months before the draft and still went #1. Another example is Joel Embiid went #3 despite it being known he would miss his rookie season. NOTHING will prevent Zion from going first overall.
- Similarly, who says he wouldn’t get injured working out between now and the draft, or roll his ankle playing pick up games. Just because he isn’t playing collegiate 5-on-5 doesn’t mean he’ll be put in bubble wrap and protected between now and June
- He’s 18 years old. This time next year, he’ll be making millions of dollars. Maybe he genuinely enjoys being on a college campus and being a kid for a few more months.
- Last week, in Duke’s comeback vs Louisville, Zion was all over the floor. He showed incredible hustle and passion. He played like a guy who really cares about his teammates, really cared about winning. He didn’t look like many of the typical “one-and-dones” who are just trying to buy time, waiting to become officially draft eligible. Maybe Zion just really enjoy the company of his teammates and playing for his legendary coach.
- What if legacy and winning actually means something to him? Who knows, deep down, what Zion’s priorities truly are. But keep in mind, guys like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant never went to college. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook – these guys didn’t win National titles. Maybe Zion really wants that NCAA Tournament championship and thinks it will enhance his future resume. I’m not saying Zion will ever be as good as any of those guys, but if he thinks he can be, than why not go for the accomplishment that those guys do not have.