Sometimes when you are close to something, whether geographically or socially, you don’t realize how things appear outside of that sense of closeness.
Our closeness is that we are fortunate enough to have tickets in Cameron and we occasionally get bits of news. We’re not insiders or anything but as we said, we feel a sense of it that maybe people a bit further away don’t.
So while we realized that Zion OMG Williamson has erupted into the public consciousness, we didn’t realize quite how much that has happened.
We got a good dose of it since Wednesday night.
Close to home, we had to go to the DMV today. The employees were talking loudly about Williamson’s injury and his shoe. When we went outside, people in the parking lot were talking about it.
The cashiers at two grocery stores were talking about it. One lady said simply “I’m glad Duke lost” and another man said his friend lost several hundred dollars in bets on Duke. Another woman exclaimed “did you see that man run out of his shoe?!”
Everywhere we went people were talking about it.
Still, that was all in the Triangle. Things beyond our little corner of basketball paradise were even more amazing.
Nike issued a statement about its shoes and how Williamson’s blew out. Their stock fell over one percent which doesn't sound like much until you realize that the market cap is close to $130 billion.
As it turns out, Williamson was wearing a Paul George model and later in the day, George asked Nike “what went wrong.”
George, remember, had a very serious knee injury himself and we’re sure he’d like to know his shoes are safe.
Various people began to weigh in. DeMarcus Cousins had strong words, saying that “Well, knowing what I know now, college is bullshit. College basketball and the NCAA is bullshit. So my advice to him is, ‘Do what’s best for you and your family.’”
Lebron James said “I have no comment on what he should do for his future. If he needed any advice, he can find a way to find me, but it is not for you guys, it is not for someone to go sit across the table and say, ‘Well, LeBron said this about this kid.’
”He has to do what is best for him. His family has always been his support system. I just wish great health for the kid, but that’s not my lane to talk about what he should do going forward.”
That was a bit unusual because just about everyone else was happy to tell Williamson what to do.
Stephen A. Smith and Jalen Rose both advised him to play. Skip Bayless is in the “shut it down” camp.
Luka Doncic advised him to “go play in Europe,” but you can get injured in Europe as well.
Isaiah Thomas tweeted “Let these kids go straight out of HS!!! Too much on the line to be messing with college if you got a legit chance to turn pro. One injury can change somebody career, Zion sit yo ass down lol and we will be ready for you in the big boy league #LookingOutForThePlayers.”
We haven’t seen it but apparently Trae Young also suggested Williamson “shut it down,” which is odd since he could have done that last season after he established himself. As a matter of fact, he by his logic he arguably should have since questions arose about just how good he was later in the season that may have pushed him down the draft a bit.
All of these guys have opinions, they are all over the place, yet they all have one thing in common.
With the exception of LeBron’s intelligent restraint and understanding that unsolicited advice is usually annoying as hell, not one of these guys has bothered to ask what Williamson might want.
Everyone has their stake, their hustle or angle. Smith and Rose know that ESPN has been marketing the hell out of Duke, largely because of Williamson. For them, it’s a clear conflict of interest. Cousins has his axe to grind with the NCAA.
What it all underscores is just how completely Williamson has captured the public imagination, from grocery stores to the NBA. You kind of start to wonder if they’re going to freak out over his plays as much as we all have from the cheap seats.
Before the first game of the season, having gotten some idea of how good he was going to be, we tweeted out “Zion is coming.”
Even after seeing him early and watching him all season, we had no idea or understanding of just how big he was going to get and how fast.
Well, now we all know don’t we?
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