After a period of relative quiet, news about Zion Williamson has arrived thick and fast this week. Not only have we at long last received some clarity about Williamson’s injury status, we have also been presented with evidence that Williamson is still capable of jumping really high and dunking a basketball. Or is he????
First up, The Athletic’s Shams Charania brings us an update about the mysterious and persistent foot injury that has thus far kept Williamson off the court for the entire 2021–22 season. According to Charania, it’s getting less and less likely that we will see Williamson play professional basketball at all this year:
Sources said Zion Williamson is not expected to return to play this season, but that he is making progress toward on-court work. So far, Williamson has been seen doing stationary shooting and is able to bear weight on his injured foot. New Orleans has 11 regular-season games remaining, which leaves an improbably tight window for Williamson to complete the team’s ramp-up stages ranging from one-on-zero to five-on-five scrimmaging. Williamson returned to New Orleans two weeks ago after rehabbing his fractured foot injury in Portland, and the 21-year-old has been cleared to gradually progress in basketball activities. He has been attending Pelicans home games and has appeared to be in positive spirits around teammates and coaches. Williamson underwent surgery to repair his broken foot last summer and had several return targets delayed this season.
And now on to the more perplexing bit of Zion-related news. Yesterday, perhaps as some sort of response to Charania’s report, Williamson posted a video of himself executing an off-the-backboard, between-the-legs dunk:
That’s a pretty nice dunk, and after viewing it a few times you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that perhaps Charania’s report was delivered a little prematurely. Surely a man whose foot is healthy enough to do that is pretty close to being able to participate in an NBA game, no? But wait, did you notice the floor?
I honestly do not know what’s going on here. Hardwood courts certainly have some give to them, but turning one into a trampoline should be impossible, even for a human as dense as Williamson. Which means the only conclusion that can be reached here is that shenanigans are afoot! The Pelicans obviously installed a special springy floor at their practice facility for the sole purpose of producing one grainy clip of Williamson performing an allegedly impressive basketball maneuver. When you really think about it, how can you even be sure that this clip was filmed on a basketball court at all? That could all be digital effects! Is that even Zion Williamson, or is it just some local gymnast in a mocap suit using a miniature trampoline to dunk on an eight-foot rim in front of a green screen? These are serious and important questions that I will ponder for at least five minutes.