Transcript: Pelicans forward Zion Williamson media availability - July 2, 2020

On his goal for the eight seeding games in Orlando:“That’s a simple answer – we’re trying to make a playoff push, and we’re trying to get back into our full game condition within those eight games.”

On how he is preparing mentally for the return-to-play in Orlando:“I’m preparing by bonding with my teammates once again. Talking to them, saying ‘We’re going to get through this,’ and we’re just going to battle the [mental challenges surrounding this]. As far as me also getting ready for that, it’s just conditioning and honing my skills.”

On the level of difficulty staying in shape during the hiatus and his current shape:“At first, it was very tough because even now, you still don’t know what’s fully going on with [the pandemic], but my step-dad and I just found different ways to stay in condition, like on-court, off-court, just wherever we could find it. I feel like I’m in good shape right now.”

On the amount he was able to play basketball during the pandemic:“Whenever I was on the court it was just me and my step-dad. Like I said, we don’t know the full severity of the situation going on at hand, so we didn’t want to take any risks, so whenever I was on the court it was just me and my step-father. I was able to get on the court every day.”

On his level of concern with the quick ramp up to return-to-play and if he’s been given guidance from the medical staff on how to prevent injuries:“I trust our medical staff to lead us in a direction to go in terms of keeping my body healthy. Just trying to ramp up, that’s the mental battle that I talked about earlier. We need to stick together, keep our [spirits] high, and I think we’ll be fine.”

On his perspective surrounding the “Black Lives Matter” movement and how he will be involved in the conversation moving forward:“I’m just going to continue to educate myself on the situation. Talk with my parents, talk with wise people, any info I can get from people, I’m going to continue to learn about it and consult my parents on the best way to use my platform.”

On what he can draw from the experience missing time earlier this season to prepare for this moment:“The same thing I’ve done my entire life, just use my family. As long as I’m with my family I know that they [will support me]. I just stick with my family.”

On where he was able to get access to court time during the hiatus:“I can’t tell you all my secrets. Some things I have to keep to myself.”

On how crazy the past year has been for him:“The last 12 months have been a different experience. With the injury, with all the stuff going on, not playing basketball as much as I’m used to. It’s been a crazy experience, but, like I said in my answer before, I stick with my family. My mom tells me ‘life is life.’ You may go through a lot of good times, you may go through a lot of bad times, you just have to try to prepare yourself as best as you can, and for me, that’s just sticking with my family.”

On his upcoming 20th birthday:“My birthday, I don’t really see it as a special day, to be honest. It’s just another day for me. But I just thank God that I’m hopefully able to make it to 20. But it’s weird (to not be a teenager anymore), but in a weird way I haven’t felt like a teenager in a long time, so I feel like it’s not going to be anything different.”

On what he thinks this Pelicans team can be when everyone is healthy:“I think this team can be really special when we’re all healthy. It’s just a matter of us coming together, fighting those mental battles of being in the bubble. Honestly, coming together, I feel like if we can come together and fight the battles together I think we can be something really special.”

On “The Last Dance” documentary series and if he took anything away from it:“What I took away from ‘The Last Dance’ is that you truly saw [Michael Jordan’s] love for the game (of basketball). The passion that he put into the game, and that’s the reason he is where he is. Him showing his emotions at the end of one episode about sacrificing, not friendship, but being disliked by certain people because he wanted to make them so much better by pushing them. He just showed his love for the game, his drive. He felt like, if somebody could do something as close as good to him, he wanted to show that he could dominate. His mindset throughout that whole documentary is something to look at.”

On if he has experience playing at Disney Wide World of Sports during AAU play, and if he is approaching this similarly to an AAU or NCAA tournament:“Honestly, it’s going to be just like the NBA, if you ask me. I’ve never played an AAU Game [at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex], but honestly I think it’s going to be just like the NBA because in the NBA we play every other day, sometimes back-to-back, so I think it will be just like the NBA.”

On if he will miss having fans in the stands, and how different will that be:“It’s definitely going to be different. I love the fans here in New Orleans, they always show so much love, they always come out and support us, so it is going to be something different, but, that comes back to what I’ve said to previous questions. As long as we stick together as a team, and give each other energy, I think we’ll be fine.”

On if he feels fortunate the NBA was able to salvage the season:“Yes, I’m very fortunate that the NBA was able to [find a way to finish the season]. I trust the NBA, and the bubble. We’re going to be in a safe environment, we’re taking advice from certain situations. It’s crazy, we’re actually about to go [to Orlando]. It’s a lot to process, but I am excited.”