Zion Williamson Wanted to 'Punch a Wall or Kick Chairs' During Knee Injury Rehab

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IJanuary 21, 2020

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

New Orleans Pelicans rookie No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will be happy to make his NBA regular-season debut Wednesday, to put it lightly.

Williamson disclosed to reporters how frustrating his rehabilitation from an Oct. 21 arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday.

"The rehab workouts were long and strenuous," the star Duke product said. "There were a lot of times when I just wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs. It's frustrating to not move your body the way you want to, especially since I'm only 19 and haven't played my first game yet. It was tough, but I battled through it." 

ESPN's Andrew Lopez reported after the Pelicans' 126-116 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night that the team plans to start Williamson in his debut while "monitoring his minutes," but executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin outlined that Williamson won't have a "hard minutes restriction."

The Pelicans will host the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night. The matchup was flexed to the 9:30 p.m. ET primetime slot by ESPN because of Williamsion's debut.

"He's going to be better than he was before," Griffin told USA Today's Mark Medina last week. "He may not be initially. But once he finds his timing, he's really going to benefit from this time with everything that has been done. It’s making him a better version of himself."

Williamson explained to ESPN's Jorge Sedano in December that the Pelicans were "trying to tweak small matters in how he walks and runs, working on the kinetic chain of his body." Williamson's 6'6", 284-pound frame has been a topic of discussion, though Griffin vehemently denied the notion Williamson tore his right meniscus because of "poor condition."

"He's just a very unique body type and certainly from a physics perspective," Griffin told Lopez in October.

The Pelicans are smartly playing the long game with Williamson, whose elusive athleticism paired with size borders on something the league hasn't seen before. 

Williamson is entering the Pelicans' rotation at an exciting time. New Orleans is fresh off setting a new franchise record for threes in a game (21) against the Grizzlies in what was veteran point guard Jrue Holiday's first game back from a seven-game absence due to a left elbow tricep strain.

The Pelicans are still a ways away from the playoff picture at 17-27 and 12th place in the Western Conference, but there's no ceiling for what a healthy Williamson can add to the team.

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