It was one of the wildest nights in NBA draft history. Most people thought the New York Knicks were the odds-on favorites (which makes no sense because they only had a maximum 14% chance) to win the first overall pick in the lottery, but it went to the New Orleans Pelicans instead.
That means they get the projected number one from Duke University Zion Williamson when the actual draft happens on June 20th. Or do they?
Zion Williamson could pull one crazy move if he decides he really doesn’t want to play for the New Orleans Pelicans.
One of the most famous examples of this was on a fateful night in 2004 during the NFL draft when Peyton Manning’s younger brother, Eli Manning, refused to go play with the San Diego Chargers – they had the number one overall pick.
The complication was “Just days before the draft, Manning’s agent Tom Condon, told the Chargers that Eli would sit out the entire 2004 season if the team drafted him with the first overall pick.”
And what did the San Diego Chargers do? They drafted him anyway.
At the end of the day, the Chargers traded Eli Manning to the New York Giants for Phillip Rivers and some picks and the rest is history. One is by far a better quarterback but the other has two Super Bowl rings. You do the math.
The 2019 NBA draft may have gotten just as complicated.
The fact remains that a lot of these young adolescents are forced to go to teams in cities they didn’t imagine themselves going to. The big stars want to go to big markets. Can you imagine if LeBron James wanted to be a Cleveland Cavalier? Oh, wait.
It varies; that’s the point.
Whether it’s the hometown sensation playing for the hometown team or whether the biggest star in a generation wants to play for the biggest market team; it just depends.
When the New Orleans Pelicans got the first pick in the draft – keep in mind it was just a draft selection; not actual drafting – they went ecstatic because Zion Williamson is a once in a generational talent. They knew what they had.
But it’s hard to argue that Zion seemed disappointed. He hid it in the way a late teenager would try to do, but it was clear he wanted to go to either the Lakers or the Knicks. Still, he played it off well and he seems like a stand-up guy.
In fact; read Mina Kimes’ ESPN piece on how complicated Zion is as not just an athlete but excels academically as well. He’s genuinely a really good poet.
By the by, Zion, if he wanted to, could very well say hypothetically forget this, “I’m gonna return to Duke and take my chances next year.”
He hasn’t signed with an agent. He hasn’t signed a shoe deal. This is very well in his repertoire if he wants to utilize it.
But people close to Zion say there’s no way. If you read Mina Kimes’ piece, you’d know the southern grown physical savant is a shy kid with a heart of gold. There’s no way he would turn down an opportunity from any city (and that city’s people) that wanted him.