Whenever I watch a nature special and we get to the point where that one wildebeest is starting to straggle and the lions are slowly creeping up, I feel bad for the prey. The Pelicans are that disease-ridden, emaciated wildebeest begging to be feasted upon by a pack of hungry potential new owners.
Zion Williamson knows it, too, or he really hates New Orleans and he’s stress eating, or he likes it too much and he’s happy eating. As someone who’s pushed three biscuits before, I can make these fat jokes. And for Zion, as an athlete whose health has always been in question, he should expect them.
To be fair, he messed up his foot training in the offseason, so at least he was training. I also empathize with a slow metabolism, which can make it harder for some to maintain weight than others.
Having said that, if the sight of you doing lateral warmup drills leads Charles Barkley to describe you as a mutant Chuck-Shaq offspring, you might want to check that BMI. It’s a terrible look for one of the most exciting and popular players in the league, but no one really cares, because it’s the Pelicans, and they’re a placeholder for Zion until he leaves to play with friends in a big city.
Even teams in the smallest, most desolate of markets have fan bases, and it’s annoying constantly being treated as a feeder system to big market teams. Nothing like NBA Twitter constantly trying to trade your favorite player to the Lakers, Philly or New York, and then that player openly flirting with them.
Pelicans fans don’t deserve Zion’s shit after what Anthony Davis did. Yes, management made multiple mistakes and wasted part of AD’s career, but they did land the pick that turned into Zion before Davis bounced, and luck often matters more than management. (I still think an AD-Zion duo would’ve been catastrophically devastating on the court and so much fun to watch.)
Zion’s camp is already getting tired of New Orleans, and I guess they’re pissed about J.J. Redick being the 1,000,001th professional athlete to be lied to by a general manager. Williamson is telegraphing a move to the Knicks about as bad as Danny Dimes telegraphs out routes.
What’s the worst that could happen by showing up in shape and staying healthy? Taking care of your body helps quite a bit in the realm of professional sports — ask the reigning MVP, or the MVP before that, or LeBron, or Jordan.
Say you spend some time on a Peloton or whatever, come back, drag this 1-7 team to a play-in game and get bounced; that’s still not enough to move up the Louisiana sports rankings. Pels games are never going to be Saints or Tigers games, and part of that is due to the name (the New Orleans Jazz is so perfect; Utah should be the Yetis or some shit), but most of it is because football is king in the South.
Chances are even the most House of Highlights version of Zion wouldn’t be able to keep the Pels from becoming the next Thunder. That sucks in its own right, so at least give the fine people of New Orleans a few dunks, a half season of going viral for reasons other than getting roasted by the guys on TNT, something, anything but blatant apathy.
The juxtaposition of an overweight Zion, the next king of the NBA ripe to be wooed, playing for the withering Pelicans, the next NBA franchise that was promised ripe to be plucked, is an apt image for small market teams in the NBA.
If the apex predators aren’t eyeing your best player, they’re probably eyeing your team.