24 Seconds presented by Ibotta: Zion Williamson
Whether he’s swatting a shot into the Smoothie King Center stands, or soaring to throw down an alley oop slam, Zion Williamson often exudes joy on the basketball court. He’s always loved the game, which was his favorite sport from around the time he was old enough to play it. The second-year forward is this week’s “24 Seconds” Q&A subject, discussing his passion for hoops, as well as some of his impressions of his new head coach and a rookie teammate:
Pelicans.com: What was your first impression of Stan Van Gundy when he got here?
Williamson: My first impression of him was “Man, I think I’m going to like this dude.” You could just see his love and passion for the game… When I hear Coach Van Gundy talk about how tough he wants this team to be, I love it, personally, because it’s a very old-fashioned style of play. That’s just how I grew up playing the game and learning the game – old school.
Pelicans.com: First impressions of Kira Lewis Jr.? Is he as quick as you are?
Williamson: I told him, “I’ve seen fast people, but you’re not only really fast, but (your) movements are so swift,” like he’s in control the whole time. He’s not out of control. So I told him that I was impressed by that.
Pelicans.com: You’re a professional athlete, but is it safe to say that basketball’s more of a passion that you just happen to get paid for? Did basketball become something more than a sport for you when you were a kid?
Williamson: I always had a love for basketball. I used to play football and soccer, but I (played) because my friends played (those sports). But basketball, my love is always there. And I always told my mom whatever job I have when I get older, I want to love the job I do. I want to go to work saying I’m happy to be here every day, no matter how much it paid. And basketball just happens to be a world phenomenon, so it just was a bonus.
Pelicans.com: Is basketball kind of a way of life for some people? I mean, you don’t see football players going out and picking up a football just for fun. Basketball players are a little different.
Williamson: I think for most basketball players, basketball is a way of life. We eat and sleep the game because the game of basketball, it’s universal. Everybody can play it and it just brings a lot of joy and happiness.
Pelicans.com: The pandemic has changed the way we have to watch the games now, changed the way your team had to play in Orlando. The NBA is special because the fans are right near you during games. What is it about the game that keeps you engaged and motivated when you can’t have folks right there cheering you on?
Williamson: That goes back to my point earlier. I love the game of basketball. I played basketball when there was nobody in the gym. I played basketball when the crowd was a sellout, and when it wasn’t. I play basketball because I love the game.