Every couple of years, a potential generational NBA talent is nearly handed the keys to the league.
One of the biggest digs on Williamson upon entering the league was that his explosiveness would lead to injuries if he could not slim down, and four years later, he’s still having trouble with his weight.
Remember, the New Orleans Pelicans blessed Williamson with a massive five-year extension potentially worth $231 million despite only playing 85 games over the past three seasons due to injuries.
That contract even includes a weight clause, and now the Pelicans are going even further to ensure Williamson gets it in shape, but according to NOLA.com’s Christian Clark, “he doesn’t listen.”
The front office even tried to put veterans –known for their elite athleticism and taking care of their bodies– around him, but to no avail.
“Williamson’s poor work ethic has been a source of frustration for the Pelicans since they drafted him No. 1 in 2019. The Pelicans have tried to surround Williamson with veterans with track records of maximizing their potential,” Clark writes. “The team signed JJ Redick in 2019. In 2022, they traded for CJ McCollum. None of it has made an impact.”
He started the season looking healthy, and Pelicans president David Griffin even gave him props for his offseason conditioning,
“This was the first summer where we’ve seen Zion take his profession seriously like that and invest in it off the court on his own in a way that I think is meaningful,” Griffin said in September.
However, that didn’t last long, and it was evident during the in-season tournament game against the Los Angeles Lakers when the Pelicans fell apart as Williamson looked gassed, ultimately leading to a 133-89 blowout win.
The 23-year-old’s weight is currently listed at 284; if he tips the scale at 295, his contract’s incentive is in jeopardy.
Stephen A Smith calls Zion out for being ‘fat’
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) December 10, 2023
Among sports pundits critical of Williamson’s weight issues are Charlies Barkley and Stephen A. Smith. The latter even angrily ranted on his Stephen A. Smith Show over his inability to get in shape, saying “he looks fat.”
“Zion Williamson… went to the free throw line. Ladies and gentlemen, I saw a belly. A belly. Like, when he took a deep breath, his belly bounced,” Smith said. “But you look like you showed up to the game having just ate a buffet. Not something from the buffet, I said the buffet. Like you ate the damn table… He’s fat.”
See below how social media is reacting to Williamson’s inability to stay in shape.