'It's been Zion'd': NBA rookie literally breaks rim in exhibition game

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

Zion Williamson dunked a basketball so hard it broke the rim.

The New Orleans Pelicans rookie and no.1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, playing in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Chicago, caught a lob from no.2 pick Ja Morant and crammed it with such authority the backboard was visibly out of kilter.

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Williamson, a 19-year-old phenom weighing in at 129 kilos and 198cm, boasts a combination of size and athleticism that conjures visions of some kind of hybrid of Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson dunked so hard during the Rising Stars Game that the rim was bent out of shape. Pictures: TNT/Getty Images

That athleticism was on full display in the Rising Stars Challenge, and Williamson threw down dunk after dunk for Team USA in their exhibition match against Team World.

An official had to re-adjust the backboard during half-time - much to the amusement of NBA fans across the world.

Almost everyone was in awe of Williamson’s sheer power.

There was a poetic element to the triumphant slam, as Williamson caught the lob from Morant, who he had played alongside at AAU level before both progressed to college basketball and then the NBA.

Williamson wasn’t the only dunk machine on Team USA, with Charlotte Hornets guard Miles Bridges getting in on the action in the second half with a monstrous alley-oop to himself off the backboard.

Bridges was Rising Stars MVP for his efforts, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Team USA toppled Team World 151-131.