It was only one game — one half of one game. A summer league game!
But in Zion Williamson‘s inaugural NBA summer league game:
- the Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson blocked Zion’s shots 3 (three) times, and
- Kevin Knox blocked Zion shots 2 (two) times.
- Zion looked like a good, quick, athletic, aggressive, 6’5″ shooting guard with a one-dimensional offensive game — go to the basket for the slam dunk. NBA bigs were there waiting.
- Most of all, Zion looked… Small. Or.. short.. and not that broad shouldered when going against the likes of the 6’11 Kevin Knox, who was primarily a football player 4 years ago at age 15, or the 7’1 Robinson who jumps to the moon.
What was even more interesting was the way Big Media reported the game: ESPN, Bleecher Report, etc — grabbed one highlight where Zion Williamson ripped the ball away from an unsuspecting Kevin Knox — who had rebounded the ball — and slam dunked it.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 6, 2019
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) July 6, 2019
They spread that highlight all over twitter and Sportscenter broadcasts and ESPN website articles, and the stories ran like this:
- On ESPN: “Williamson took the floor as a pro for the first time Friday night, scoring 11 points in nine first-half minutes that included some thunderous dunks against the Knicks and fellow former Duke star RJ Barrett.”
What they Didn’t Say or Show
What they didn’t report was that Zion had his shot blocked 5 (five) times. That he did not in any way dominate this game. In fact, looked ‘small’ and pedestrian to Mitchell Robinson who was jumping over the moon on his slams.
They for example didn’t mention or show this Knox block of Zion:
— JB (@JeffreyBellone) July 7, 2019
And they didn’t show or mention this play where Knox forces Zion to shoot an airball then takes it down the other end and hits one of his pretty 3’s:
Knox owns Zion. pic.twitter.com/VWwZ4FzcjY
— Bootum (@DaRealBootum) October 17, 2019
They didn’t mention or show this highlight — where Mitchell Robinson slam dunks, then blocks Zion’s 3-pt attempt, then slams again in one play:
MITCHELL ROBINSON — dunk > block > dunk pic.twitter.com/XjQO01kydL
— Reid Goldsmith (@reidgoldsmith) July 6, 2019
Crown Jewel Back in the Jewel Case?
During the game, Zion was pulled due to a reported sore knee after a knee-to-knee collision with Mitchell Robinson. After the game it was announced that Zion would not play in any more summer league games, for precautionary reasons. The next day, it was announced Zion wouldn’t play summer league due to the sore knee and bad back. And bad back??
Sure, fine. But the thoughts that immediately enter the head:
- Could be they don’t want Zion to over-try and injure himself. A very legitimate concern.
- Could it be the NBA marketing dept has gotten involved and saw what we saw — that Zion did not look like Michael Jordan or LeBron James or any other new crown jewel — and sent Zion back to the factory for some ‘fine tuning’? One would hope that ‘fine tuning’ is not NBA refs being shown videos and told “you see that block by Knox on Zion — that should be a foul from now on” — as the NBA has been notorious for.
- Why didn’t the Knicks Twitter account show any of the Knicks block shots on Zion — they ALWAYS show Mitchell Robinson blocks. Yet none for this game. And they didn’t show the Knox blocks either. One suspects the NBA marketing dept is involved here.
Time will tell. Twitter allows fans and fan analysis sites to make #2 above more difficult for the NBA to get away with than back in Jordan days. (Although curiously KnicksFilmSchool did have its Twitter account suspended just before the NBA draft for some arcane reason (copyright complaints for music used over old videos). When $billions are at stake, anything is possible.