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SportOpinion: Zion Williamson wants to play, so he should play. The doubters don't matter

22:25  14 march  2019
22:25  14 march  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Zion Williamson injury update: Duke star ruled out vs. Miami on Saturday

Zion Williamson injury update: Duke star ruled out vs. Miami on Saturday The fact Duke waited until Saturday to announce Williamson is out for the Miami game left a glimmer of hope he might play.

Opinion: Zion Williamson wants to play, so he should play. The doubters don't matter© Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC Duke forward Zion Williamson, right, stands next to R.J. Barrett prior to the team's game against Syracuse in February.

CHARLOTTE — After all the hyperventilation over a minor knee injury, the screams to “shut it down” and the conspiracy theories that took root even as the truth was there in plain sight, Duke star Zion Williamson has a message for those who doubted he would put on a college uniform again.

Watch this.

Duke announced Thursday that Williamson would play Thursday in the ACC tournament quarterfinals against Syracuse for the first time since Feb. 20, when the shoe explosion around the world occurred during the opening minute against North Carolina.

Zion Williamson out again, will sit against Wake Forest

Zion Williamson out again, will sit against Wake Forest Zion Williamson has not played since the crazy shoe-explosion incident that left him with a Grade 1 right knee sprain, and he’ll be out once more Tuesday night. 

And no matter what happens Thursday or for the rest of the season, we should all resist the urge to second-guess how the future No. 1 overall pick has decided to handle this.

Zion wants to play, so Zion should play. It’s really that simple, which means the rest of us should just sit back and enjoy the show.

Here’s the thing a lot of the “shut it down” crowd seemed to miss when the injury occurred, even as we didn’t know right away about whether it was a minor sprain or something more serious like an ACL tear.

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The supposed risk for Williamson continuing to play college basketball if healthy doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way a lot of people think about it.

At this point, given what he did the first 25 games of the season, there is practically nothing Williamson could do on the basketball court that would derail him from going No. 1 overall. Even if he suffered some kind of serious injury that meant he’d have to spend next season recovering rather than playing in NBA games, he’s so much better as a prospect than the rest of this draft class that teams would be willing to take that risk.

Moreover, basketball is not like football, where a serious injury that puts someone’s immediate future in peril is treated differently by the pros. Part of that is simply a numbers game. The difference between the best linebacker in a given draft and the 10th-best linebacker could be a matter of degrees, so teams have more incentive to pick a player whose injury history is cleaner if they’re relatively the same talent level.

Roy Williams: North Carolina preparing as if Zion Williamson will play for Duke

Roy Williams: North Carolina preparing as if Zion Williamson will play for Duke “We’re going to give a scouting report with Zion in it,” Williams told reporters Thursday. “If he doesn’t play, that’s their decision.”

In basketball, there’s only one Zion. And even for a player who has a potentially chronic problem that could limit their potential, NBA teams have to roll the dice on talent. Though Michael Porter, Jr., might have been a top-five pick had he been healthy last year, he only dropped to 14th, even with the kind of back injury that usually serves as a major red flag.

Also, the idea Williamson should have been packed in bubble wrap for six months once he established himself as the clear No. 1 pick is ludicrous.

He’s a basketball player, which means when he’s healthy, he’s going to play basketball. Whether it’s a workout or a pickup game, there’s going to be risk of landing funny or twisting a knee or breaking a bone. To suggest he shouldn’t do those things as he prepares for the draft would be akin to suggesting he shouldn’t get in a car for fear of being in an accident.

Williamson has a chance to do something special over the next month, and no matter how many people think the he should already be in the NBA or that he should be paid for what he’s doing now, he wouldn’t be coming back if this season didn’t have value to him.

Duke not expecting Zion Williamson to play vs. North Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski says

Duke not expecting Zion Williamson to play vs. North Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski says “I have to be careful not to push this,” Krzyzewski said, via The Athletic. “I’d be surprised if he’s not ready by the ACC Tournament.” Krzyzewski said the team will definitely get Williamson back at some point this season. "He'll be in some basketball workouts now," Krzyzewski said, via ESPN. "That's a really good sign for us. For me, it's a great sign." Williamson originally suffered the injury less than 40 seconds into Duke’s first matchup against North Carolina on Feb. 20. The Blue Devils have gone 3-2 in his absence, including an 88-72 loss to the Tar Heels.

That should be respected and celebrated, not questioned by those of us in the peanut gallery.

It’s also worth remembering that in a couple months, this young man’s life is about to get very complicated. For perhaps the last time in his basketball career, he’ll have an opportunity to play for nothing more than the joy of celebrating a championship with his friends. That may not be an important thing to everyone, but it’s clearly important to Williamson.

And on Thursday night, he will return to the court against Syracuse, ending all the speculation that something might be really wrong or that Duke was somehow trying to take advantage of the NCAA tournament selection committee by keeping the mystery going.

Any time Zion plays, it’s likely to be something special. As long as he has a stronger pair of shoes than last time, it should all work out just fine.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: Zion Williamson wants to play, so he should play. The doubters don't matter

Related slideshow: 2018-19 NCAA Basketball (Provided by imagn)

Opinion: Zion Williamson wants to play, so he should play. The doubters don't matter

Duke star Zion Williamson will play vs. Syracuse.
Duke star Zion Williamson will play vs. Syracuse

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