Zion Williamson to Return to Action When He ‘Feels Like Zion’

NEW ORLEANS – Zion Williamson addressed media on Tuesday and succinctly stated that he does not feel mentally ready yet to stand with teammates on the court and help the New Orleans Pelicans win crucial games.

“Physically, I’m fine,” Williamson said after practice. “Now it’s just a matter of when I feel like Zion. I know the atmosphere I’d be entering, based off like the playoff experience, so now it’s just a matter of when I feel like Zion.”

The two-time NBA All-Star expanded on this thought a short while later.

“It’s a little bit of a mental battle,” Williamson said. “When I re-aggravated it back in February, it was tough. When I go to make certain moves, there is that hesitation. Sometimes there’s not, sometimes there is. I understand the magnitude of these games coming up and I don’t want to out there hesitating or doing something that may affect my team in a bad way.”

Williamson has been frustrated by the length of his recovery process, especially after suffering the setback in early February.

“The shit sucks,” Williamson said. “I don’t know how else to say it. It just sucks. I love this game. I say it over and over. For those people who think I just want to sit on the sideline just to sit over there, I don’t know why people think that. Nah, it sucks. I just want to be playing basketball.”

When Williamson feels ready to contribute in a positive manner, he and the Pelicans will make the decision about any potential return together. This is in lockstep with what David Griffin told media last week.

“When (Williamson) feels like himself, he’ll tell us, ‘Yeah, I’m ready for the next phase.'” Griffin said. “To this stage, he hasn’t felt like that. He’s gotten to 3-on-3 on-court and just didn’t feel the next day or the next two days after that (making) the next progression (in the recovery process) made sense. He hasn’t been quote-unquote reinjured. He hasn’t reported soreness. It’s more of a hesitancy you can see.”

Williamson appeared in only 29 games during the 2022-23 regular season. He wound up missing the final 45 games on the schedule due to the hamstring injury. It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to return at some point during the upcoming playoffs — should the Pelicans advance far enough — or will need to wait until the next regular season. However, it’s entirely evident that he’ll know when he is ready to join teammates again.

“I can pretty much do everything, but it’s just the matter of the level that I was playing at before my hamstring {injury},” Williamson said. “I’m just a competitor. I don’t want to go out there and be in my own head and affect the team when I can just be on the sidelines and supporting them more. I know myself. If I was to go out there, I would be in my head. I would hesitate on certain moves. That would affect the game.”

Zion Williamson trusting his movements fully is a non-negotiable. Play-in and playoff games are not the time and place for experimentation.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunesSpotifyStitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.

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2 thoughts on “Zion Williamson to Return to Action When He ‘Feels Like Zion’

  1. I’m okay with this. I don’t want Zion out there if he’s not going to fit in. The Pels have won without him before, and they can win without him now. You do you, Z. When you’re ready, come back and blow up the NBA.
    Until then … GEAUX PELS!!!

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