- Duke superstar Zion Williamson was forced to leave Wednesday night’s game after his shoe blew out in the opening seconds.
- The injury prompted many in the NBA world to call on Williamson to hold off returning to the court until he was drafted.
- On the other side of the debate was NBA legend Charles Barkley, who insisted that basketball is more than money.
Duke superstar Zion Williamson was forced off the court with an injury just seconds into the Blue Devils’ game on Wednesday night after his foot busted right through his shoe.
With Williamson projected as the top overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the injury scare led to many in the basketball world to suggest that he sit the remainder of the season out, regardless of the severity of his injury.
There’s sound logic to the case – Williamson has done all he needed to do in college basketball to prove that he’s worth a top pick in the draft, and any more games spent playing for free with the Blue Devils do come with the inherent risk of injury.
No one would fault Williamson if he decided to hang up his Nikes until he was getting paid to lace them up and take the court.
Still, there were those that called on Zion to play, none with more zeal than Charles Barkley, who spoke out against those that said Williamson should sit on “Inside the NBA” on Thursday night.
“When did we get to the point where all people care about is money?” Barkley asked, before running through the college credentials of himself and his fellow players on the “Inside the NBA” crew.
“Shaq played college for two years – three. Kenny played for four, I played for three, Michael Jordan played for three, Tim Duncan played for four, David Robinson played for four. Some of the greatest players ever – Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson – played. When did we get to the point where you’ve got clowns on television saying, ‘Oh, don’t play.’ That’s what you do, Ernie. That’s what we do. We play basketball.”
Barkley said he was sympathetic to those worried about an injury derailing his career, but noted that the love of the sport for those that play it goes beyond money.
“I don’t ever want to see anybody get hurt,” Barkley said. “This kid looks like he’s going to be a fantastic player. But I get so mad when people act like money’s the only thing that matters in the world. Like, ‘Oh dude, you’re going to go in the NBA. Don’t play.’ I mean, that’s ridiculous.”
“That’s what we do, we play basketball.”
Charles Barkley weighs in on Zion Williamson's situation at Duke. pic.twitter.com/7foEecc6la
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 22, 2019
There are cases to be made on both sides of the debate, but in the end, Williamson should do whatever he feels is right for him, and as Barkley notes, sometimes players just want to play.
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