TV stars ripped for ‘fat shaming’ NBA stud Zion Williamson
SO MUCH for body positivity.
NBA No.1 draft pick Zion Williamson made his much-hyped debut for the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs after undergoing meniscus surgery in October.
The 198cm, 130kg forward sat down four minutes into the game and broadcaster ESPN immediately began to focus on the 19-year-old's weight.
The network flashed a graphic when the camera panned to Williamson on the sideline that read, "Weight: 285 lbs (3rd-heaviest player in NBA this season)."
Williamson's weight has been scrutinised since he starred for college team Duke last year.
Some have questioned whether his size was partly to blame for the meniscus injury that cost him the first half of his rookie season and if it could hinder the rest of his NBA career.
ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy did not take long to go there.
The duo said it was clear that Williamson looked heavier than the last time they had seen him and that he needed to trim down after the 44-game absence to start his NBA career.
They continued that they could not believe he had gained eight pounds (3.6kg) of muscle in a week after resuming working out and questioned whether 130kg was even accurate.
Jackson said he would have taken Ja Morant, the No.2 draft pick who is starring for the Memphis Grizzlies, over Williamson.
Incensed fans immediately took note of the announcers' focus and erupted on Twitter.
Sports and pop culture website The Ringer also skewered Jackson via its NBA Twitter account.
Zion if you see this, don't listen to Mark Jackson. We think you look just terrific. #BodyPositivity— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) January 23, 2020
You know Zion's done some cool stuff because he got Mark Jackson to stop body-shaming him for two goddamned seconds— Patrick Wyman (@Patrick_Wyman) January 23, 2020
We're now going on like 10 minutes of fat shaming Zion Williamson.... We get it... Few extra trips to the Beacon in Spartanburg... no big deal. We've all been there.— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) January 23, 2020
Stop fat shaming Zion, Zion is perfect just the way he is— David Adler (@_dadler) January 23, 2020
it took ESPN about four minutes to start fat shaming Zion— Jeremy Layton (@JeremyLayt0n) January 23, 2020
It would be great if announcers didn’t feel the need to call Zion fat 3 minutes into his career. Would make for a much better product, imo.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) January 23, 2020
After a slow start, Williamson finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. He exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 straight points for the Pelicans in one stretch.
Fans cheered, "We want Zion!" after he was benched following that run, as New Orleans is taking a cautious approach to the Duke star's return.
"No, he couldn't go back in the game," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said afterwards. "The medical people said that was it."
The Spurs defeated the Pelicans 121-117.
"Just the energy the crowd brought, the energy the city brought, it was electric, and I'm just grateful that they did that," Williamson said after the game.
"It was a dream come true to finally get out there; but at the end of the day, I did want to win, so just got to look to next game."
The Pelicans (17-28) take on the Nuggets (30-14) on Saturday in New Orleans.
This story first appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission