‣ Zion Williamson, the first overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, has been criticized for his perceived lack of commitment to condition and fitness.
‣ NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have led the scrutiny, criticizing Williamson’s attitude and work ethic.
‣ Despite the criticism, Williamson has chosen to ignore their advice, believing it doesn’t come from a healthy place.
"We only criticize people that we like. We only criticize people that we believe in." 💯
Shaq and Chuck respond to Zion's message about their criticisms
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT)
Zion Williamson, the Pelicans’ star player, might be cracking under the pressure of living up to his potential. Despite being the first overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, he’s yet to lead New Orleans to title contention. His talent is undeniable, but it’s yet to translate into consistent success.
The young star’s commitment to fitness and conditioning has drawn criticism. Fans and experts perceive this through his apparent unwillingness to change his body type. The scrutiny has been particularly intense in recent weeks, led by Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.
These NBA hosts expressed their disappointment when the Los Angeles Lakers knocked the Pelicans out of the In-Season Tournament earlier this month. Zion, however, chose to ignore their advice. He felt it wasn’t coming from a place of genuine concern.
“We only criticize people that we like. We only criticize people that we believe in.” This was the response of Shaq and Chuck to Zion’s dismissal of their critique. It’s clear they were taken aback by his reaction.
The former legends turned basketball analysts were shocked that Zion disregarded their advice. They decided to voice their disapproval once more during his team’s clash with Memphis. O’Neal stated, “When it comes to being a dominant big man, I am the authority, I am the go-to guy.”
In the current 2023/24 campaign, Williamson’s stats are 22.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game with 58.3% overall shooting. Compared to last season, he’s underperforming in every department. The legends believe in him, but they’re not sure he believes in himself.
Zion’s response to the criticism was dismissive. After a dominant 36-point performance that led the Pelicans to victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, he brushed off the Hall of Famers’ comments. He stated, “At the end of the day, I can’t control what no grown man do.”
O’Neal believes that Zion isn’t ready to become a great player because he isn’t mature enough to heed experienced voices. “His response is telling me he ain’t ready,” Shaq said. He added, “I would’ve been like ‘F— Shaq and Charles, watch this for the rest of the season.’ That’s how you respond.” Shaq feels that Zion still lacks the look of a determined player.