Stephen A.: Nike 'Concerned' About Zion Williamson's Weight After Knee Injury

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2019

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson walks upcourt during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press

Stephen A. Smith said Friday on ESPN's First Take that Nike is concerned about New Orleans Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williamson's weight after he recently suffered a knee injury.

Smith also reported that Williamson is dealing with a strained meniscus: "I got a tip from somebody: strained meniscus. Somebody told me that what they're not telling us is that he's got a strained meniscus, and Nike is concerned about his weight. And they want him to use this opportunity to get some weight off him so he doesn't put as much strain on that knee."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that while Williamson's injury is not considered severe, he is expected to miss a "period of weeks" to start the regular season due to an "abundance of caution" from the Pels.

New Orleans selected Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft after his one dominant season at Duke. Williamson was named the consensus National College Player of the Year thanks to averages of 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.

Zion did miss some time with a knee injury, though, and injury issues are already popping up for him at the NBA level.

NBA.com lists Williamson at 6'7" and 284 pounds, which gives him a frame somewhat reminiscent of Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Regardless of size, Williamson has been a thoroughly dominant player to this point in his career.

In four preseason games for the Pelicans, Zion averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest, which suggests his game will translate well to the professional level.

The injuries are somewhat disconcerting, though, and it makes sense that Nike may be concerned due to how big of an investment it made in Williamson.

According to Darren Rovell of The Action Network, Zion signed a five-year, $75 million shoe deal with Jordan Brand, which is a subsidiary of Nike. Rovell added that it is one of the biggest guaranteed shoe contracts Nike has ever handed out.

If Williamson misses substantial time, it will be a blow to both Nike and the Pelicans, but preserving his long-term health is far more important since he has the potential to be a generational star.

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