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Why Zion Williamson Is A Referee’s Nightmare

Too fast, too strong, too new

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - MAY 04: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles the ball downn court during the fourth quarter of an NBA game against the Golden State Warriors at Smoothie King Center on May 04, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

It takes a special kind of confidence to be a referee.

Not only is everything you do questioned by players, coaches, fans and TV announcers, not to mention reporters, very, very few people are even qualified to make those criticisms.

Imagine that you’re dealing with the greatest athletes in the world, guys who are up to 7-6 and who can have startling power and quickness.

Then imagine former Blue Devil Zion Williamson comes along and everything you thought you knew is out the window.

Here’s a pretty fascinating piece on just how different Williamson is from an official’s perspective and why it’s so difficult to get calls right in his case. Check this out:

“That uncanny combination of size and speed impacts the anticipatory decisions officials normally make. The three basic elements of refereeing are location adjustment, position adjustment and vision adjustment. There’s a lead official (somewhere along the baseline, ideally on the strong side), a slot official (free throw extended, near the sideline), and a trailer. Possessions involving Zion tweak their individual responsibilities a bit and force all three to focus on spots they otherwise don’t...

“In these spots, the lead official often has no choice but to observe from the opposite side of the lane, which isn’t preferable. Even still, referees don’t stare at Williamson so much as they focus on different defenders who appear on his path to the rim.”

Quite rightly, the writer says that no one anticipated a guy who is 6-6 and 280 who could dominate point guards and centers coming along.

It’s going to take a while for people to figure it all out.