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Volume 27 No. 7
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Zion's NBA Debut Matches Hype Despite Limited Minutes

Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images

Pelicans F Zion Williamson last night made his much-anticipated NBA debut in a home loss to the Spurs, and it "only took one game" for him to "do something extraordinary." Williamson in the fourth quarter had a "sublime 17-point surge in a span of barely more than three minutes." Everything about his debut "exuded a big-event vibe." The game at Smoothie King Center was "sold out and hundreds of fans were waiting to pour into the arena when the gates opened about an hour before tip-off" (AP, 1/23). The game was "part-tent revival, part-extravaganza and part-competition," and for the Pelicans was the "most covered event in franchise history" (NOLA.com, 1/22). ESPN’s Dave Pasch said, “This is arguably the most-hyped game for an NBA rookie since LeBron James” (“Spurs-Pelicans,” ESPN, 1/22).

The buzz was "palpable throughout the night, but it went to another level in the fourth quarter" (ESPN.com, 1/23). A crowd waiting to "go nuts after a Zion highlight finally got a chance to in the fourth quarter, matching their loud cheers during the pre-game introduction" (NOLA.com, 1/22). Playing limited minutes, Williamson was pulled from the game with more than five minutes left. As he sat on the bench, fans chanted "We want Zion!" (L.A. TIMES, 1/23). ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt described the scene during Williamson's fourth-quarter run: "The building’s on fire" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 1/23).

Headline Roundup: N.Y. POST: "Zion Williamson Lives Up To The Hype In NBA Debut" ... CBSSPORTS.com: "Williamson Puts On Historic Three-Minute Show In NBA Debut, Somehow Exceeds Extraordinary Hype" ... THE RINGER: "Zion Williamson Just Gave Us The Most Exciting Seven Minutes Of This NBA Season."