There has been a back-and-forth in the media between Zion Williamson and NBA Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal about Zion’s effort on the court.
After Zion’s sub-par performance during the In-Season Tournament against the Lakers, Shaq and Chuck questioned his fitness.
Zion responded by putting up a season-high score four nights later and was asked about the criticisms from O’Neal and Barkley.
To which he responded, “If it comes from a great place and a place where they just want to see me do better — thank you. But if it comes from anywhere else, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. You can’t control that.”
Now, Shaq and Barkley have insisted the things they have been saying about Zion are coming from a good place and directly addressed Zion’s recent comments.
“I have G-14 classification,” Shaq said on NBA on TNT on Tuesday night. “I’m the president when it comes to dominant big men. There is no other. There was another, rest in peace, Mr. Wilt Chamberlain. When it comes to dominant big men, I am the authority. I am the go-to guy. I sat there and watched him. I said he doesn’t run hard, he doesn’t create easy baskets for himself. And it looked like he wasn’t ready. That was me telling him ‘If you do this, you can get to the next level. We only criticize the people that we like. We only criticize people that we believe in.”
Barkley added, “We want him to be great.”
Ja Morant, who was in the same 2019 Draft class as Zion, made his long-awaited return to the league against the Pelicans on Tuesday.
Williamson was unable to avoid criticism after being outplayed by Ja.
Skip Bayless was the latest media personality to comment on his fitness or lack thereof.
“Ja, having not played basketball, the real game in eight months, looked in better overall physical condition than, especially in the fourth quarter than Zion looked,” Bayless said on Undisputed. “That’s just wrong… he’s been hurt, and hurt, and then he’s out of shape, gets more out of shape when he’s hurt, and it’s just hard for me to cling to the notion that long term he’s gonna be more valuable than Ja.”