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Zion Williamson Was in ‘Dark Places’ During Injury Recovery: ‘Did a Lot on My Spirit’ | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors


SAN ANTONIO, TX - OCTOBER 9: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during a preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs on October 9, 2022 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Durability has been a primary concern for New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson throughout his career, but being away from the court hasn’t been easy.

“I was in dark places at times because I couldn’t play basketball,” the Duke product said, per Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated. “I could only do limited rehab things. And then just seeing how the world reacted? It took a lot. It did a lot on my spirit.”

Williamson played just 24 games as a rookie in 2019-20 and missed the entire 2021-22 campaign because of foot injuries.

Beck noted the 2020-21 All-Star suffered a setback in December with a broken foot, which was all the more difficult for him.

“I was rehabbing, and in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Man, in two weeks I’m about to play again,'” he said. “And then I didn’t.”

Then CJ McCollum said during an interview that Williamson hadn’t reached out to him following the trade that brought the guard to the Pelicans from the Portland Trail Blazers. While McCollum said they spoke after that interview aired, it didn’t stop the criticism for the franchise cornerstone.

Former Pelicans teammate JJ Redick even suggested there was a “pattern of behavior” from Williamson that showed he was “detached” as a teammate:

First Take @FirstTake

.<a href=”https://twitter.com/jj_redick?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jj_redick</a> is concerned with how “detached” Zion Williamson has been from the team. <br><br>”This is a pattern of behavior that we are seeing again and again with Zion.” <a href=”https://t.co/EmE6BeBvjv”>pic.twitter.com/EmE6BeBvjv</a>

“I felt helpless,” Williamson said. “I couldn’t do nothing about it. While [pundits] are telling me I don’t care about my teammates, or I’m a bad teammate, or I don’t want to be somewhere, the whole time I’m worried about my foot. I’m worried about, man, I hope my foot heals right, because if it doesn’t, who knows, I may not get to play basketball again.”

Fortunately for the forward and the Pelicans, he appears ready for the 2022-23 season.

If he is anything like the version of himself who averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 61.1 percent from the field in 2020-21, the Pelicans could be among the top teams in the Western Conference.

After all, they emerged from the play-in tournament and challenged the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs without him. The core of Williamson, Brandon Ingram, McCollum, Jonas Valančiūnas, Herb Jones and José Alvarado may be ready to make strides and climb the standings.

Keeping Williamson healthy figures to be the key, and he will have his first chance to make an impression during the Oct. 19 opener against the Brooklyn Nets.

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