The NBA Summer League kicks off this weekend and all eyes are on one player: Zion Williamson.
Just visit any sports site today and start counting how many seconds it takes to see a headline or photo of the rookie. Go ahead, I will wait …
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He’s all over the place.
Most of it is standard fodder to create excitement for the NBA Summer League, a glorified basketball scrimmage. Think otherwise? When was the last time a Summer League game was played in prime time and shown on ESPN? Uh, never. Tonight’s game will air at 9:30 p.m. in front of a sold-out crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas. Reserved tickets jumped from $125 to $400 with general admission ticket prices doubling from $35 to $72.
On Wednesday, ESPN chatted up Williamson, his debut and his weight. Yes, his weight. He is apparently “out of shape,” since last taking the court three months ago for Duke. Remember, the six-foot-seven, 285-pound teenager is still growing. Williamson will celebrate his 19th birthday tomorrow. He may not look like it, but he has another full year as a teenager.
During the debate ESPN hoops analyst Jay Williams made an off-the-cuff statement suggesting Williamson is, “… coming into his own as a superstar in the NBA.”
Superstar? Really? Suggesting Zion Williamson is already a “superstar” before he’s ever stepped on a court as an NBA player is a bit premature. When I think of the NBA, and I think of “sueprstars,” I think: Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, James Harden, Larry Bird, LeBron James, etc.
Haven’t we learned anything from Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2013), Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers, 2007), Kwame Brown (Washington Wizards, 2001) and Michael Olowokandi (Los Angeles Clippers, 1998).
Heaping the “superstar” tag on an athlete — a teenage athlete — is unfair and unwarranted.