The longevity of the NBA experience can certainly be attributed to the never-ending parade of basketball stars that have played in its league over the years and decades. In fact, periods of the NBA can be characterized by the top active players of those times: Wilt Chamberlain, then Michael Jordan, the Kobe Bryant, then LeBron James. All of those big names were accompanied by contemporaries that helped shape the image of the NBA at any given moment in time. And as legends of yesterday leave, new blood is brought in through the annual Drafts. And one future star picked Thursday could shape the NBA tomorrow.
CNN has it that Zion Williamson, a bright up-and-coming basketball ace from Duke University, had the supreme honor of being the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The occasion was held June 20 at the Barclays Center in New York, with ESPN and Yahoo Sports broadcasting the events as they happened. It was much too obvious that the 18-year-old forward of the Duke Blue Devils would become the first draft pick this year, and the New Orleans Pelicans hit the jackpot in the draft lottery to be able to acquire this future NBA superstar.
The hype being heaped upon Williamson is rather justified. While he only played a single season for Duke, he quickly became an unforgettable name in college basketball. Not only was he packing a dynamite dunking ability, he was perfectly well-rounded as a player. Williamson then became a media sensation in February this year during a Duke-North Carolina match, even though it led to his team’s loss. Early into the first quarter his foot tore through his Nike shoe, resulting in a sprain that knocked him out of the game and caused the manufacturer to lose value at the stock market.
Players already in the NBA were clamoring for Zion Williamson to stop playing college ball after that incident because he was already assured of being top pick when he gets in the draft. Nevertheless, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the Pelicans have gotten him, the 6-foot-7 and 285-pound wonder from Duke became emotional. He dedicated his good fortune to his mother, whom he credited for providing him with his educational opportunity even as she sacrificed her own dreams. His mother Sharonda Sampson coached basketball for youth league and middle school, and headed teams where her young son played.
Williamson’s great achievement for Duke was taking the team to the NCAA tournament Elite Eight, finishing his college career with 22.6 point and 8.9 rebound averages. His fellow Duke player R.J. Barrett was third pick for the New York Knicks. Murray State’s Ja Morant was the second draft pick and went to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Image courtesy of Fox News