After missing the entire 2021-2022 NBA season due to a broken foot he suffered over the summer, Zion Williamson was heavily scrutinized by basketball media. He was labeled a ‘bust’ for yet another injury, but fans grew more attentive to his weight when they would come across pictures of him on social media platforms or televised commercials.
Before the start of last season, Williamson weighed over 300 pounds, a 15-pound gain from his entrance to the League in 2019. The criticism had been constant until the previous week when Williamson spoke to FOXSports on the body shaming he’s faced.
“What people don’t understand is, even the writers and stuff, if they have children of their own, imagine if somebody talked about their child how they spoke about me. Critiquing my body, critiquing how I look.”
Out of the 22.7 points Williamson is averaging this season, 18.9 of them are coming from inside the paint, second best in the League. Williamson has become the force the League knew he could one day become, thanks largely to the training staff that spent hours with him in the gym and his personal chef this past off-season, Jhonas Lewis.
Lewis had altered the eating habits of Williamson, who had ‘two large Dr. Peppers’ along with his meal. More importantly, Lewis’ meals would cut Williamson to a healthy standard.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to say the number, but I will say this: [He lost] well over 35 pounds, for sure,” Lewis said. “We were dropping almost 7-9 pounds a week. By the third week, he started seeing the results. You couldn’t pay Zion to put his shirt on.”
It’s safe to assume Williamson is satisfied with his weight, but the criticism still lingers across his mind. With the way the Pelicans have played with Williamson on the floor, it looks like the Duke product is using the weight trolling as a motivation to succeed.
“Every time they talked about me, it was about weight,” Williamson said. “I don’t even think they realized what kind of impact that can have on you.”