It feels like it has been 10 years since we last saw Zion Williamson on the basketball court, but the high-flying phenom was an All-Star just last season.
A foot injury has kept Williamson off the court the entire 2021-22 campaign, but he has shown off the progression of his rehab in recent weeks with multiple rim-shattering dunks during workouts.
In fact, Williamson threw down a 360 windmill slam before the New Orleans Pelicans’ NBA Play-In Tournament Game against the San Antonio Spurs on April 13, and the athletic feat rubbed ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith the wrong way. It may have been impressive, but Smith was bothered by the sight of it.
Stephen A. Smith called out Zion Williamson for his 360 dunk
After posting a video of a between-the-legs slam to his Instagram just a few weeks ago, Zion Williamson threw down a 360 windmill dunk before the Pelicans’ NBA play-in game on April 13. Given that media members were in attendance, the clip of his dunk quickly went viral.
Stephen A. Smith took issue with it.
“I’m disgusted, makes me want to throw up,” Smith said on the April 13 episode of NBA Countdown. “What good does that do us as basketball lovers, as basketball fans, who love the game of the NBA? The fact that I see you out there doing dunks, but I haven’t seen you play one single game this year; how does that help the NBA product? How does that help the NBA brand? … It makes me want to throw up.”
Smith isn’t the only person who has a problem with it. Richard Jefferson called Zion out when he posted his last video. Why is he showing off how healthy he is if he isn’t playing in actual games?
But since he looks so fresh and explosive, what are the chances he plays in the playoffs?
Will we see Zion Williamson in the NBA playoffs?
The Pelicans, led by Zion’s new teammate CJ McCollum, won their play-in game against the Spurs on April 13. The victory set up a chance for them to claim the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference by winning another play-in game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
So, is there a chance Zion could play in that contest? Or what about a playoff series against the No. 1 seeded Phoenix Suns if the Pelicans beat LA?
As noted by Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans, ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth reported that Williamson is playing in “controlled five-on-five workouts,” but “a return to play is not imminent, and there’s no chance” he plays against the Clippers or Suns.
But why? If he’s healthy enough to throw down unreal dunks, shouldn’t he be able to help his team in a playoff game?
The answer to that question is unclear, but it looks like we will probably have to wait until next season to see Zion Williamson play again.