Zion Williamson, who is celebrated for his massive size and freakish corresponding athletic ability, has always said he sees himself as a basketball player rather than a dunker.
Not to say he’s a perfect basketball player. Who is? Everybody has weaknesses to their game. But the reason that Williamson gravitated to Duke and later signed with the Blue Devils rather than Clemson, as seemed likely at one point, is because then-coach Mike Krzyzewski said he saw him as a basketball player and, that at Duke, he wouldn’t be chained to the lane as a power player.
With the Pelicans this has continued and we’ve seen Williamson do whatever he wants on the court. He can drive to the basket, passes beautifully and can block shots or hound opponents on defense (although mostly when the mood strikes him). And of course, he can just overpower you if he feels like it and there’s not much you can do to stop him when he does.
All this begs the question though: how did he learn so much about the game?
Turns out he had two really smart mentors: his mom and his stepdad.
His mother had him watching Bird, Magic and Jordan, while his stepfather really went deep into the vault to show him Kenny Anderson, Earl Monroe, Slick Watts and Fly Williams.
And all of it had an enormous influence on his development because Williamson paid attention. He has one foot firmly in the modern, video-game world of hoops to be sure, but the other one?
A bit like Mike Tyson, he’s far more aware of the past than most young players ever will be. And that allows him a body of knowledge that very few NBA players can approach.
So if it’s not clear, this should sum it up: listen to your parents. They know stuff you can’t.
But at the same time, they don’t understand everything new either, so make it all your own - and then pass it on too.