Zion Williamson Feels 'Fine' After Pelicans Debut in Return from Knee Injury

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up before the game against the San Antonio Spurs on January 22, 2020 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

Exhale, New Orleans

Pelicans rookie and top overall pick Zion Williamson is "fine" following his NBA regular-season debut Wednesday night. 

"He is fine, really," head coach Alvin Gentry said Thursday, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez. "Practiced today and everything, so there was no soreness, and he said he was fine."

Williamson was limited to 18 minutes in New Orleans' 121-117 loss to the visiting San Antonio Spurs, but the 19-year-old phenom still made an impactful debut by scoring 17 consecutive fourth-quarter points en route to finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

UNREAL Zion went off for 22 PTS and went 4/4 from 3PT in 18 minutes in his NBA debut 🔥 https://t.co/j1e5SgooGH

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Zion Williamson is the 1st player in NBA history to go 4-4 (or better) on threes in his NBA debut (via @EliasSports). His 22 points are the most in a player's debut in @PelicansNBA history, passing Anthony Davis. https://t.co/FoVIfNe7hS

Williamson had been recovering from an Oct. 21 arthroscopic knee surgery that repaired a torn right lateral meniscus suffered during the preseason. 

Williamson told reporters Tuesday that, at times, he "just wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs" during his "long and strenuous" rehabilitation workouts.

Getting pulled from his debut with the Pelicans down just 111-108 at the fourth quarter's 5:23 mark might have been more frustrating, though.

"It was very hard," Williamson admitted to reporters following Wednesday's loss. "I'm 19. In that moment, I'm not thinking about longevity. I'm thinking about winning the game. It was very hard (to get pulled)."

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

“(Zion) was saying, ‘Please don’t take me out. I’m going to win that game for us. Please!’ I said, ‘I don’t have a choice.’ I said, ‘I can leave you in, but you’ll have a new coach in the morning,’” #Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. #NBA @TheUndefeated https://t.co/YZxbzOdJCr https://t.co/ND3QIBXQox

Gentry added Thursday that Williamson's minutes restriction for New Orleans' game against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night won't be decided until after Friday's morning shootaround. 

While the 17-28 Pelicans are within striking distance of the Western Conference's eighth seed, the organization is more concerned with Williamson's durability in the long term.

New Orleans and Denver will tip off at 8 p.m. ET from the Smoothie King Center Friday night.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.