New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson agreed to a max contract extension last week with one goal in mind — to prove he can overcome all obstacles in his path and win.
Williamson, one of the most hyped, young basketball players coming out of college in recent memory, agreed to a contract worth about $193 million. He mentioned the decision to sign the extension at a press conference on Wednesday.
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“The last few months have been emotional. The world has run on stories, so when my family goes out in public, people are harassing us about why we don’t like New Orleans or why we are. I don’t want to be here,” he said.
“I couldn’t play because I broke my leg. Every time I check my phone there’s something negative. Even when you’re trying to make the situation positive, it’s tough.”
Williamson, the 2019 draft’s no. 1 overall pick, the Pelicans need to land the organization for good. However, injuries hampered his career early on. He said he wants to prove he’s a “winner” and do so with his teammates in New Orleans.
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“I want to prove that I’m a winner. Simple. I want to win with coach. I want to win with my teammates. The ultimate goal is to win a championship,” he said. “I think that’s what we’re all striving for [Pelicans GM David Griffin] He said, we are hungry. Everyone saw what the team did last year. I’m excited to add to that.”
He thanked the Pelicans organization for believing in him.
“Thank you all for really sticking with me last year. It’s been a tough year, and then for the Pelicans to come in and give me this birthday gift, I’m not going to let them down. I’m not going to let it down. City down, I’m not going to let my family down, and most of all, I’m not going to let myself down,” he said.
Williamson only played in 85 games over three seasons, but when he’s healthy, he’s proven what he can bring to the table. He was an All-Star in his second season averaging 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Looking healthy, Williamson could be a huge factor in the development of the young Pelicans.
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New Orleans advanced to the playoffs after being seeded eighth in the play-in tournament. Although the team lost to the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans took two games from them. Add Williamson to a team that includes CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas and Herb Jones, and the team could contend for something higher than the sixth seed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.