NBA legend's brutal mockery of Zion Williamson injury predicament

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·Sports Reporter
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NBA legend Charles Barkley says the New Orleans Pelicans should be concerned about Zion Williamson's ability to bounce back from injury. Pictures: Getty Images
NBA legend Charles Barkley says the New Orleans Pelicans should be concerned about Zion Williamson's ability to bounce back from injury. Pictures: Getty Images

The NBA world hasn't really been able to get a truly good look at the top pick from the 2019 NBA draft yet, thanks to constant injury concerns for Zion Williamson.

Since being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans, Williamson has only been able to stay on the court for a limited time over his first two NBA season.

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Yet another injury derailed his preparation for his third NBA season, after playing just 24 and 61 games in his first two seasons.

Williamson is sill 'weeks away' from even getting back on the practice court this season - let alone an NBA floor, after a fractured foot required surgery in the pre-season.

The Pelicans front office has been heavily criticised over their management of the injury, with fans unhappy about the vagueness in communicating when their star player would be back on the court.

The amount of time the 21-year-old has spent off the court has also resulted in some fairly unflattering commentary about his weight.

Boasting one of the NBA's most unique frames, Williamson is listed at 198cm tall and weighs in at just under 130 kilograms - but images since he's been sidelined lead NBA legends Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal to believe otherwise.

“It looks like me and Shaq had a baby,” Barkley quipped on Inside the NBA, adding that he feared the Pelicans weren't doing enough to help Williamson stay in shape despite being sidelined.

"Somebody has got to be a grown person down in that relationship (in New Orleans) and say, ‘You got to get in shape’.”

There were plenty of other wisecracks as O'Neal joking said he would quit in response to Barkley's remark.

But the former Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns star said he was serious about Williamson's recovery from injury being hindered by his shape.

“He’s already had surgery on his legs, now he’s got a broken foot,” Barkley said.

“He’s going to have to learn, even when you’re hurt you’re going to have to control your eating. When guys get hurt and they come back, you’re trying to get in shape. And if you’re putting all that stress on your knees and feet, you’re just going to keep getting hurt.

“I know he’s got a lot of power … but you’re not going to win if he’s always hurt.”

Zion Williamson still some time from NBA return

When the New Orleans Pelicans announced at their September media day that Zion Williamson had suffered a foot fracture, general manger David Griffin said he expected him to return for the regular season.

With the Pelicans now seven games into their season, the team announced that Williamson remains weeks away from even returning to the practice court. Head coach Willie Green provided the update when speaking with reporters on Monday.

Per ESPN's Andrew Lopez, Green said that doctors are "encouraged" by Williamson's latest set of scans, but that he hasn't been cleared for 5-on-5 practice. He won't be cleared for the next step until another set of scans that will take place in 2-3 weeks.

"He's cutting," Green said, per Lopez. "He's doing explosive work. He's running. He's getting closer and closer. It's just one of those injuries where we want to be really diligent, especially with the foot, of being careful when we put him back on the floor at full go."

New Orleans drafted Zion Williamson with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New Orleans drafted Zion Williamson with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday's update arrives after video of Williamson running drills prior to Saturday's game against the New York Knicks fed concerns that Williamson wasn't close to game shape or a return to the court.

A 2-to-3-week timeline just to determine the next step and an apparently out-of-shape Williamson don't add up to a lot of optimism around his return.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans are off to a 1-6 start and in danger of falling out of playoff contention before Williamson's ready to play. 

They're certainly not going to rush their franchise player back from a foot injury, especially if the season's looking like a lost cause.

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