Pelicans forward Zion Williamson excited ahead of NBA debut

Zion Williamson’s debut is emerging, with him set to make his long-awaited NBA debut on Wednesday night versus the San Antonio Spurs. The path back to the court hasn’t been easy for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 Draft, but he’s ready, at last, to play.

“The rehab workouts are long and strenuous,” Williamson said Tuesday. “There were a lot of times where I wanted to punch a wall or kick a chair. It’s frustrating to not be able to move your body the way you want to, especially since I’m 19. It’s been tough, but I battled through.”

Williamson’s regular-season debut was expected to be one of 2019-20’s marquee events, but it was delayed several months due to Oct. 21 surgery on his right knee.

Last week, New Orleans Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin told reporters that Williamson was set to debut versus the Spurs. 

That long-awaited debut is a welcome sight for Williamson.

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“I know the people of New Orleans are going to show a lot of love because that’s what they do,” he said. “For the outside people, all I can do is invite the love. If they want to bring it, then bring it. 

“It’s been great. The city is beautiful, the people are beautiful as well. They’ve welcomed me. It felt like they’ve adopted me a little bit. They show love everywhere I go and just tell me they can’t wait for me to get back out there.”

Williamson returned to full-court, five-on-five work in practice with the Pelicans on Jan. 7. But coach Alvin Gentry and the organization took a non-committal stance about when Williamson would join his teammates on the floor in games.

“I think it might be a little different magnitude to this one. This is my first NBA game … this is business now. This is different,” Williamson said of his debut Tuesday.

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