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A Swing And A Miss From The Duke Chronicle

People need to let Zion be Zion.

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Army v Duke
DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 11: Teammates Zion Williamson #1 and RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils react after a play against the Army Black Knights during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As a rule we don’t criticize writers at the Duke Chronicle too often and we don’t like to do it. On occasion though it’s hard not to.

Take this article urging Zion Williamson not to come back in order to make a statement about the NCAA and amateurism.

Reiss Becker makes some solid points here and everyone by now understands that the NCAA’s model is flawed and needs to be overhauled.

Williamson has been a sensation at Duke and his connection with the basketball program has raised his profile immensely. It would have been big wherever he went, but Duke allowed him to maximize it. We don’t see people like Becker doing things like, say, going on academic strike to help teaching assistants, and he’d be foolish to do it - just as Williamson would be foolish to make the case against the NCAA at the expense of his own branding. And he’s said pretty clearly what he wants to do: play ball at Duke with his friends. Have the college experience.

It’s just hard to see why people can’t accept that. Everyone wants to use Zion for whatever their purpose is. He’d better get used to it; it’s not going to stop.

Becker also says this: “So it’s fairly safe to say that for the Jordan Goldwires, the Mike Buckmires, and the Alex O’Connells of the world—this could be it. Their few years at Duke will likely be the only time they are ever economically productive as basketball players. And yet they are categorically denied the right to make any money whatsoever during the limited time when they potentially could! Jordan Goldwire cannot sign shoe deals. Mike Buckmire cannot charge money for his autographs. Alex O’Connell cannot issue endorsements. I can do all of those things. Why do I have rights and privileges that my fellow students, who happen to be basketball players, do not?“

We have an appreciation for bench players because, in our wildest dreams, that’s the most we could ever hope to be. And as much as we like Jordan Goldwire, Alex O’ Connell and Mike Buckmire, we’d be surprised if anyone other than O’ Connell emerged as a significant player.

While it is true that 98.8 percent of college players will not work in the NBA, 100 percent of scholarship college players have the opportunity to get a college education, debt free, and that’s nothing to sneer at, particularly if you started life with economic handicaps.

Most of all though we wish people would just let Zion be Zion. Everyone has given him advice, most of it unsolicited. Why would he care and why does everyone feel the need to exploit him to advance their own arguments?

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