Zion Williamson revealed this week that he is physically able to return to the New Orleans Pelicans from his hamstring injury, just not mentally.
With his squad preparing to fight for their shot at a playoff spot, everyone wanted to see Williamson speed up his recovery in an effort to help the Pelicans against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Unfortunately, it’s not happening.
The same injury that has sidelined Williamson since Jan. 2 will keep him out for the foreseeable future.
“Physically I’m fine, now it’s just a matter of when I feel like Zion,” he told Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “I know the atmosphere I’d be entering based off like the playoff experience. So now it’s just a matter of when I feel like Zion.”
Williamson is frustrated that he is at this point, but there is nothing he can do about it.
“It’s a little bit of a mental battle, because you know when I reaggravated [the injury] back in February, it was tough,” Williamson continued.
“So when I go to make certain moves, there is that hesitation. Sometimes there’s not and sometimes there is. And I understand the magnitude of these games coming up and I don’t want to be out there hesitating or doing something that may affect my team in a bad way.”
In addition to all that, Williamson also acknowledged that he hears the criticism directed his way about being injury prone. And it’s definitely getting to him.
“It’s tough. I can’t lie,” he continued.
“From my perspective, I just want to play basketball. I want to hoop, I want to play the game I love. But the reality of it is whether I check my phone, whether I’m just watching TV, no matter what it is, I can’t really escape what the world thinks, what people’s opinions are. So, it’s frustrating.”
What a year for Nebraska. https://t.co/E2yD771M5L
— Game 7 (@game7__) April 11, 2023
When you are someone who has played in just 114 games since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2019, that can’t be the case.
When will Williamson ultimately feel mentally capable enough to return to the Pelicans? Time will tell.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.