Zion Williamson Drops Interesting Comment After Beating Knicks

Pelicans star Zion Williamson against Knicks

Getty Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson openly said in the past that he loves playing at Madison Square Garden. His postgame comments about “The Mecca” following their 115-92 rout of the shorthanded New York Knicks on Tuesday, February 27, are no different except for the last part.

“I can say this is my first time playing in Madison Square Garden like this where there were no COVID restrictions,” Williamson told reporters after the game, “and I mean New York’s the Mecca of basketball. So playing here for the first time like that was — even though I fouled out; that was unfortunate — it was dope! You can tell the fans are really behind the Knicks and it’s always dope to see especially when fans are super loyal like that but for me, I’m good in NOLA and I’m glad we got the win.”

For the first time, Williamson made a definitive statement about his loyalty to New Orleans with New York as the backdrop to extinguish the rumors about him wanting out of the Pelicans with the Knicks as a potential landing spot.

Williamson-Knicks Rumors

In the offseason, the Knicks checked in with the Pelicans about Williamson, according to former New York Post Knicks beat reporter Marc Berman.

“New Orleans is still not sold on Zion Williamson,” Berman said on the Knicks Recap Podcast. “Obviously, there’s a risk there. All eyes are on him this season. I was told the Knicks checked in over the offseason about Zion. That could be a possibility.”

Then early in the season, there were rumblings of Williamson’s discontent in New Orleans which he fanned furthermore in his postgame comments after a 136-124 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, their fifth straight at that time, on November 12 that slumped them to a 4-6 start.

“Like I said last year, we had a team meeting,” Williamson told reporters, “and it was brought up, some things I could do better. Especially with like buying into the program. And right now, it’s tough right now but like I said right now I’m taking a little backseat right now. I’m trusting the process.”

“I’m trying my best to buy in right now.”

But since then, the Pelicans have won 31 of their next 49 games with Williamson on pace to play the most games in a single season since his second year in the league. The former No. 1 pick is averaging 22.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Zion Williamson Plays Decoy vs. Knicks

Williamson scattered 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks against the Knicks, who constantly doubled him to no avail.

With Jalen Brunson (neck spasms) and Isaiah Hartenstein (Achilles soreness) joining Anunoby, Julius Randle (dislocated shoulder) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle surgery) in the sick bay, the shorthanded Knicks failed to keep pace with Williamson and the Pelicans.

With New York’s defense focused on slowing down Williamson in the post, Trey Murphy III, who was on the Knicks’ radar in the 2021 NBA Draft, tormented them with 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans pulled away.

Brandon Ingram added 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

Williamson underscored their defense which limited the Knicks, who are short in firepower, to 37.3% shooting and 14 of 46 from the 3-point line. The loss narrowed the fourth-placed Knicks’ gap between them and the eighth seed in the East to just 3 games with plenty of games left and still no exact date of return for their injured frontcourt starters.

Meanwhile, the win pushed the Pelicans up in the West to fifth place, holding a half-game lead over the Phoenix Suns (34-24) and 3.5 games behind the fourth-placed Los Angeles Clippers (37-19).

“Me and [Ingram] talk about stuff like what we want to do for this team and the future of this team,” Williamson told reporters after the win. “Because I’ve said it over the years, but I think this year, is we’ve really been like asserting it is we want to win. At the end of the day, people remember winners. So if we can win, we know we’ll be remembered.”

Williamson is all-in on the Pelicans’ future which means the Knicks fans’ dreams of bringing him to New York end for now.

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