He’s here and I was there. Zion Williamson is officially playing professional basketball so I cooked up 26 observations from his debut in New Orleans tonight, one for every letter of the alphabet.
A – Anthony who?
Anthony Davis’ debut didn’t bring this much energy in the building. Call it recency bias if that feels good but take it from someone who was there – Zion has already dwarfed AD.
B – Boosie
Easily a top tier choice for the intro music, Louisiana’s own Boosie played Zion out from the locker room to the warm-ups with “Set It Off.”
C – Company Burger
A source who works at the popular burger joint that is the closest restaurant to the Smoothie King Center confirmed that tonight’s game was far busier than any other he’s seen and that includes the postseason.
D – Double Teams
The first couple of times Zion touched the ball San Antonio put a second man on him. Greg Popovich may be doing his job, but Greg Popovich is also mean whenever he is doing his job.
E- E’twaun Moore
Zion finally turning loose coincided with Moore joining him on the floor. I’m no coach but I’d like to see the most possible minutes this Friday night for E’twaun and Williamson.
F – First Points
It wasn’t glamorous but nobody cared. Here’s the moment Zion officially kicked open the box score and made himself at home in our hearts:
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G – Gentry Oh No Coach Gentry
Fans will likely cool off once the buzz from tonight evaporates and they read about why Zion didn’t play after that timeout but oh man – if you’ve never been surrounded by 18,000+ fans wishing to fire a coach into the sky moments after being on cloud 9 then good for you. I’m still dizzy.
H – Hot Dog
Popular local hot dog spot, Dat Dog, made a Zion themed hot dog that has cheese, bacon, bbq sauce, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onion. It looks like this:
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We're so excited about @zionwilliamson and the @pelicansnba, we created a new 'dog- the "Zion's Beefy Boy" (because Zion is a beefy boy)! Dat Burger cooked to order with cheese, bacon, bbq sauce, lettuce, tomato and grilled onion. Now put on your @nolatshirtofthemonthclub fan gear and let's see that left arm in action! #zionwilliamson #pelicans #wontbowdown #nolafood
(Zion, do not go near a Dat Dog before June 1st)
I – Ingram Dunks, Giving Zion His First Assist
We never got a Zion dunk but we did Zion flex his unselfishness. Williamson’s first NBA assist was to his (future All-Star) teammate Brandon Ingram.
J – J.J. Redick Subbed in for Zion
It seemed like the man of the hour was just getting started but the pause button was bound to get pushed. Fellow former Duke Blue Devil J.J. Redick subbed in for Zion in the first quarter and we had to just be okay with it.
K – Killed Energy After No Zion
If there was ever a time to have the medical staff mic’d up, it was in the 4th quarter after Zion did the Zion things people needed Zion to do. He just scored those 17 points, the Spurs finally called timeout (maybe Popovich does like fun? Thank you, coach, for not calling a timeout after the second Zion three). Then after the timeout, there was no Zion in the lineup because the trainers said so. The energy in New Orleans was dead after that.
L – Layup Line
All eyes on the layup line when Zion first came out. Perhaps his lack of big energy dunks in the pre-game was a hint to the style he was about to play…
M – Missed Backboard Dunk Pre-game
He did attempt an against the backboard dunk but he overshot the backboard, so…
N – No Dunks
Dude ended up with no dunks.
O – Offensive Foul, Zion’s First
Not usually the kind of thing one keeps track of but it’s worth pointing out that when this foul against Zion was called the crowd was just straight up disgusted. Zion already can do no wrong.
P – Popovich
Was there a worse coach to have game-planning against Zion in his debut? Gregg didn’t let us have any fun until the 4th quarter. But that barrage was so fun that it was all worth it.
Q – Quarter Number 2
The nerves settled for Zion just over a minute into the second quarter as he grabbed his first NBA rebound and scored his first NBA points. Go ahead and hang a banner in the Smoothie King Center.
R – Rest
Zion got a lot of rest between playing spurts in this game. Good luck to the rest of the league when that doesn’t need to happen as often.
S – Sean Elliot
I was lucky enough to be in the arena for the game so that means I was also lucky enough to avoid hearing Sean Elliot say lame stuff on television. Please nobody tell me what Sean Elliot said during this game.
T – Trey Lyles
The man who drew the first-ever Zion Williamson defensive assignment. I feel he is a marked man once Zion works this nerves out.
U – Unibrow
Seriously, who is Anthony Davis again?
V – Valuable, Not Most Valuable
Zion got MVP chants when he took his first three throws which is pretty overzealous. If we’re gonna commit to doing this for literally every single free throw the man ever takes then let’s be overzealous.
M-V-P chats for Zion!!! pic.twitter.com/sBMw9h37Lb
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 23, 2020
W – “Woooooo”
Okay, I realize most arenas recycle sound clips and audio drops, however, the Ric Flair “Woooooo” runs very deep in New Orleans. Every year we’ve had a clear cut “best player” they’ve gotten the “Woooooo” treatment. Baron Davis had it, Chris Paul owned it, I don’t remember who Anthony Davis is, and when Zion scored his first-ever NBA bucket, he got it. That’s a fleur-de-lis shaped tear coming out of my New Orleans eyeball.
X – Ex New Orleans Resident Marco Belinelli Was Being Rude
Marco, don’t think nobody noticed you being extra physical with Zion during inbounds passes. Because I did, everyone in section 114 did. And we demand an apology.
Y – Why didn’t Gentry put Zion back in the game?
I know the answer and it makes sense why he didn’t but I’m just doing an impression of New Orleans basketball fans for the rest of time when discussing Zion’s debut.
Z – Zion.
Despite the loss, despite the minutes restriction, he’s here, back from injury. The Zion Williamson era has officially begun.