Zion Williamson has a message for those in charge of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James’ NBA 2K22 ranking. During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, Williamson chimed in with his vote for James to be part of the 99 club.
“Off respect, and what he’s done for the game, I’ll give LeBron a 99,” Williamson explained. “What he’s done for the game, nobody else has done, so I’ll give respect where it’s due.”
James is currently slightly lower with a 96 rating, good enough for a four-way tie atop the rankings with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Williamson believes James along with Durant should both have 99s in the game. The All-Star’s other notable ratings were Antetokounmpo and Curry, who Williamson noted both players should be in the 97 to 98 range. The big man’s goal is to move his own rating up to a 95 this season as his current score is 89.
LeBron on Zion: You Can ‘Feel the Strength & Speed’ on the Court
After facing Williamson for the first time on March 2, 2020, James praised the Pelicans star noting how much you can feel his strength when you are playing against the big man. James has been complimentary of both Williamson and Ja Morant from the class of 2020.
“You have to actually be out on the floor to actually feel the strength and the speed that he plays at,” James said at the time, per ESPN. “It’s a hell of a rookie class, I’ll tell you that. These kids are special.”
James also had a message for those criticizing his decision to share a moment with Williamson and other young players. The Lakers star emphatically denied it was a “sign of weakness” to talk with your opponent.
“Anybody that says that, ‘LeBron, why would he do that while he’s playing? It’s a sign of weakness. … He’s buddy-buddy with the guys he’s going against.’ Tell them to kiss my a**,” James added as he concluded the same press conference. “All right? With a smile, too. Appreciate it.”
Zion Can Become an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2024
Much has been made about Williamson’s future in New Orleans given the team’s struggles. Williamson could become a restricted free agent in 2023 but the soonest he can be an unrestricted free agent is 2024. The Pelicans star is playing on his four-year, $44.2 million rookie deal. If Williamson does hit free agency, there are sure to be those that wonder about the Lakers’ viability, as happens with nearly every marquee player even if the chances are slim.
Williamson has already been tied to the Knicks thanks to the big man openly gushing about Madison Square Garden. The move would also reunite Williamson with his former Duke teammate R.J. Barrett, but it is all pure conjecture at this point in the process.
CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter noted the pressure is on Pelicans general manager David Griffin to avoid another situation like he had with James’ first stint in Cleveland.
“So David Griffin better summon the instincts of his career successes to make sure he doesn’t hire another dud of a head coach,” Reiter detailed. “Otherwise, Zion’s sure rise will benefit some other place like New York, New Orleans will again ponder a painful what-could-have-been, and Griffin’s past accolades and achievements will start to look a lot like the LeBron-as-Midas Effect: All gold with King James near you, but too often a handful of dust once you’re off on your own.”