So everyone was first introduced to Zion Williamson on youtube with his crazy athletic dunking highlight reels. He was a youtube sensation and quickly became one of the most popular basketball influencers at the time. Zion and LaMelo Ball were both celebrities in high school and had to get used to the spotlight quickly with the media following their every move. However, there are some unknown facts about Zion so today’s topic is “10 Things We Didn’t Know About Zion Williamson”.
#1: Started dunking at 5’9
No one would’ve ever guessed that Zion was always undersized as a kid. He was only 5’9 in the 8th grade and he was determined to dunk the ball so he worked at it until he finally reached his goal. His stepfather who came into his life at 5 years old, coached Zion and actually groomed him to be a point guard. But then every young boy’s dream happened and he sprouted from 5’9 in the 8th grade to 6’7 in the 10th grade. I don’t know what God Zion prayed to, but he definitely came through for him. So let’s fast forward to his freshman year at Duke and now he’s shown off his ability to dunk from the freethrow line, just like Michael Jordan in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest. What an improvement!
#2: Drake wore his high school jersey
So Zion became an overnight celebrity from youtube. NBA players would attend his high school games, and even some celebrities were in the crowd as well. They all wanted to see Zion in action first hand and this drew a lot of attention to his high school team. Zion and his team were constantly on Ballislife.com, mainly Zion’s fastbreak transition 360 windmill dunks, but let’s just say everyone was on the Zion bandwagon. Most celebrities would rock NBA players jerseys, or maybe some college jerseys of current NBA stars, but Drake wanted to be different and did something that no one has done before. He rocked Zion’s high school jersey while Zion was still in high school, which is absolutely crazy. Just imagine being in high school and one of the greatest and most popular rappers in the game rocks your jersey. Zion was one of the most hyped athletes coming out of high school since Lebron James.
#3: Biggest shoe battle since Michael Jordan
Zion was the biggest thing in high school sports, next to LaMelo Ball (we can’t forget him), but everyone wanted a piece of him before he hit the main stage. Zion has many choices of colleges, which meant shoe deals were coming in too. Everyone knew Zion would be a “one and done” after committing to Duke University. Every shoe company was after “The Next Big Thing” and after careful consideration, Zion chose to partner up with Nike. His mom was even “under investigation” for taking bribe money from Nike to get Zion to attend Duke. Sonny Vaccaro, who is a legend in sneaker marketing stated that this was the biggest bidding war ever done and even compared it to Michael Jordan’s Nike deal in 1984. He is definitely the most marketable players and can easily become a billionaire if he plays his cards right.
#4 Nike stock declined because of Zion
This moment was one to remember in March Madness history. It was a huge rivalry between two major powerhouse schools, Duke vs. North Carolina. Only 36 seconds in the game, Zion’s Paul George 2.5 model shoes exploded causing him to slip and injure himself. He suffered from a knee injury and was ruled out of the game and the final six games as well. I guess his shoes couldn’t handle all of Zion’s explosiveness on the court, but this hasn’t even happened to Lebron James, who is physically similar to Zion. His incident caused the Nike stock value to drop $1.1 billion the day after, which is absolutely unbelievable. The matter was so serious that Nike went to the University to investigate his custom-made shoes to see what caused this to happen.
#5: “Zion Cam“
In Zion’s one year playing for Duke University, he exceeded expectations and got even more popular by the time March Madness came around. Everyone tuned in just to watch him face off some of the best college programs around. CBS had a great idea and decided to dedicate a camera just to Zion. The “Zion Cam” was installed just for the NCAA tournament. They captured some of his best moments up until Duke took a devastating loss to Michigan State losing by 1 point in the Elite 8.
#6: Football star?
Zion was such an elite athlete that he even received notice from one of the best football programs in America. He received an offer in 2016, to play football for LSU. They were just coming off a great season winning a national title and they even wanted Zion. The coach said that he feels like Zion is a great elite athlete and he would make a great addition to the LSU Tigers. Many have noticed that Zion is built like a football player, so I guess it was worth a try to get him away from basketball.
#7: Almost committed to Clemson
You can already imagine all the major schools investing in Zion to get him to choose their school, but it wasn’t always like that. Zion wasn’t a huge name as a freshman, but in the summer of 2015 and later on that season he had 16 D1 offers. Duke came in late at the end of August in 2016. He made his decision on a ESPN telecast Live in January 2018 with other top recruits T.J Barrett and Cam Reddish. Clemson came close to signing him, but at the last minute he decided to commit to Duke. He decided on Duke because he wanted to play for the legendary Coach K and he felt like he could learn alot from him underneath his wing.
#8: His name has a spiritual meaning
Zions’ middle name is Lateef, which is the name of his father. Al-Lateef is another name for God in Islam. Zion got his first name from his great-grandmother. When Zion’s mom was pregnant with him, her grandmother spoke over Zion and felt like he would be something special, and she wanted her to name him something just as special. She always read the bible and one day the name Zion caught her eye. Mount Zion is a hill located in Jerusalem and a very holy place where God used to dwell. She felt this name fit him and now he is as big as mount Zion. Maybe this is where he got his height from? But aside from the spiritual side of his name, his teammates at Duke also gave him the nickname Zhanos. Thanos is a super villain in the Avengers universe, who actually had half of the universe disappear with a snap of a finger. If you’ve seen the Marvel movie Avengers then you can probably understand how he got this nickname.
#9: Highest max vertical in Duke history
It’s no surprise how high Zion can jump. So a ton of great players have come out of Duke, and to think that he has the highest vertical in all of Duke history is incredible. His vertical came in at 45 inches and this is definitely not natural for a freshman to have straight out of high school. He’s one of the most athletic athletes, which is why he is one of the most hyped basketball players in the NBA.
#10: Rejected by Anthony Davis
So as everyone knows AD left New Orleans to join the Los Angeles Lakers. Zion was drafted first overall to the New Orleans Pelicans, but even before that moment Zion and AD had a moment together that he won’t ever forget. When Zion was younger he asked AD for an autograph, but AD rejected young Zion and he never forgot that moment. Now that he’s in the NBA he made a pact to himself to sign every kids autograph. He knew the pain he felt when AD turned him down, so he never wanted to make any kid feel the way he did.
Zion has barely played in any NBA games because of injuries. He didn’t officially start his rookie season until January. And then when he did get started the NBA was shut down for some months due to the Covid-19 virus. Once the season got started up once again, the Pelicans didn’t have the greatest record so he didn’t get to play too much longer. Let’s see if he lives up to the hype in this 2020-2012 season. What do you think?