Jul 14, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) sits on the sidelines before the start of an NBA Summer League game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Thomas & Mack Center.

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Zion Williamson wants to spend "whole career" with Pelicans

Seth Dunlap
July 31, 2019 - 12:33 am
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Is Zion positioning himself as the anti-LeBron?

While Zion Williamson has yet to suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans, he may never suit up for another NBA team.  At least if he gets his way.  Williamson told sports and pop culture website Complex, in a column posted on the publication's website Tuesday evening, that he's planning on being a Pelican for life.  Here's a snippet:

“Growing up, I loved what Kobe did and Dirk did," Williamson said. "My intentions are to stay with the Pelicans my whole career,  but if something happens, I wouldn’t leave because I hate the place. It’s just the business."

In a NBA now more tilted towards player mobility than ever before, Williamson's expressed desire to play his entire career in one city is telling.  Stars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and DeAngelo Russell will be playing for new teams this upcoming season.  The Kobe's and Dirk's of the league, megastars who played for a single franchise their entire career, are an endangered species.

There's the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, in Golden State.  Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are locked up long term in Portland.  We'll see what happens with Giannis Antetokounmpo when he his unrestricted free agency in two seasons.  Not many players are interested in staying with one franchise for upwards of two decades.  Even less are interested if that franchise isn't at least on the periphery of championship contention.  

James, remember, has gone from Cleveland to Miami, back to Cleveland, then on to Los Angeles during his 16 season career.  If the expected happens, and Williamson succeeds LeBron James as the preeminent face of the NBA in the near future, then the torch could be passed from the biggest mercenary in league history to a humble kid from South Carolina who has expressed a desire to set up long term residence in equally humble -- in terms of NBA market size -- New Orleans. 

This is all a bit speculation and conjecture, of course.  It would be naive to hold Williamson, eight years from now, to something he said a few weeks after his 19th birthday.  If he's being genuine, then that's yet another shot in the arm of a Pelicans franchise that seems risen from the ashes of NBA irrelevancy in just a few miraculous months.  But if the Pelicans don't win, don't contend for titles, during the eight seasons the team has before Zion can enter unrestricted free agency, then Williamson may have a change of heart.  Just like Anthony Davis did.

For now his comments are more reason for Pelicans fans, who've been desperate for a taste of rooting frontrunning fandom for nearly two decades, to celebrate.  Zion has truly captured the heart of this city.  Maybe he'll never let it go.  

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