I, much like most of the country, tuned into the Duke-UNC game last night. I have no rooting interest in either team. In fact, I loathe Duke, and I can give or take UNC. I usually do not care less about this game.
But last night was different.
I tuned in to see Zion Williamson.
I have watched this kid here and there all season long, my longest look being the Virginia game a week or so ago. But last night, like I said, everyone was watching. They took a camera around the arena, and I saw people like Ken Griffey Jr, Spike Lee, and most notably, President Barack Obama. They were all there for the same reason I tuned in I suppose, Zion. This kid is the talk of college basketball. He is a highlight reel. He usually does something spectacular. He is going to be the first pick in the NBA draft when he leaves after this season. He was the reason that the ticket prices were rumored to be in the 5 figures last night. I know there were other 5 star players in this game, but none of them can hold a candle to the supernova that is Zion Williamson.
Then, 33 seconds into the game, he ripped through his shoe and sprained his knee. He did not see the floor after that.
And then Duke proceeded to get housed.
That game was rough for the Blue Devils from the start. They got beat in every single facet. The blowout even furthered my opinion that the Fab Five is a much better group of freshman because when one of them got injured, or in foul trouble, they rallied around each other. Zion being out 33 seconds in, and then Duke getting beat by 16 points, proves that this current Duke team is a one man team, and that man is Zion. They go as he goes, and when he is out, they struggle.
But, more to my point, the NCAA is a travesty, and the NBA needs to fix the whole "one and done" thing. I have despised "one and done" forever, making it very clear here at SeedSing. The NBA needs to do what the MLB does and let these kids get drafted right out of high school, and if they don't get picked, then they have the option to go to college for 2 years before getting back in the draft. As of right now, Zion has a "mild knee sprain", is the best case that Duke and the NBA could have hoped for. But still, he has a knee injury. That is rough, especially for a kid that is playing college basketball for free, while making his school, and his coach, millions upon millions of dollars.
I have heard a lot of people on podcasts and TV today give their take on what they would do if they were Zion Williamson, and I am no different. If I were him, I would not suit up for another game the rest of the season. This has nothing to do with my hatred for Duke, or the fact that I despise "one and done", this has to do with this kid's earning ability at the next level. As I said, he is a supernova, and he is in very, very high demand. He is going to make huge bank when he gets in the league. He is going to sign a major shoe deal. He is going to sell tons of jerseys and he will be a big time get for endorsement deals. But right now, all he is doing is possibly injuring himself and making zero dollars. I'm sure he enjoys playing college ball, and dominating. He is a beast. But now, after what happened last night, I personally think he should just shut it down.
I know it is hard to tell an athlete that they cannot play. But, the NCAA is a viciously flawed company, and the way they are taking advantage of this teenager is gross. Now I don't know if he is going to be a star. He could be the next Shawn Kemp or Charles Barkley, or he could be the next Sam Bowie. He is a very big dude, both in height and weight, and knee injuries are tough to get back from. So why risk further injury playing basketball for free. I talked to my dad and told him that I am sure Zion is being taken care of someway, but his big time, for real payday, is coming, and coming soon. I just don't want this kid to really hurt himself by playing in college. College was a waste for him. I heard Boogie Cousins talk today about his experience with college basketball, and he called it bull shit. I totally agree with him.
So Zion, think about your professional future and your earning potential. Shut this nonsense down. You do not need to play college basketball anymore. You have already proven yourself and then some. Shut it down and get ready for the pros. It is the best thing you could do.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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