Zion Williamson has missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season and Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley are upset over his lack of game shape. One can't discuss his injury struggles without bringing up his weight issues. Many analysts and fans have criticized his lack of commitment to his shape, suggesting it is holding him back from reaching his full potential.
On the Emmy Award-winning sports show Inside the NBA on TNT, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal criticized Zion Williamson after the New Orleans Pelicans got eliminated from the NBA playoffs in the first round.
The two Hall of Fame big men gave Williamson and his peers advice on how to make him better. Barkley compared his predicament with Anthony Davis of the LA Lakers, who is also infamous for being consistently injured. He said:
"Zion's got to look in the mirror...because it's the same thing with Anthony Davis. You can't be hurt all the time. Injuries do happen...Screw your family, the coaches, your friends, you got to want to be a great player for yourself. And he's got to say 'Yo man, I've been in the NBA (and) I've been hurt every year.' and I say the same thing with Anthony Davis. Davis is a really, really talented player but he never came close to reaching his potential."
Charles Barkley does have a point when it comes to injuries and a player's health. He has often recalled the story of when the legendary Moses Malone showed him some tough love and called him fat and lazy.
That triggered Chuck and motivated him to get in shape. Barkley is suggesting that someone in Williamson's inner circle does the same for him.
Anthony Davis could have been the key piece that turned the tables for the LA Lakers this season. They were potentially championship contenders with him on the floor but got eliminated from play-in contention instead because the big man was always hurt.
Barkley predicts a similar future for Williamson if he doesn't get in the gym. Chuck continued:
"Zion, he let those guys down. He didn't play at all this year and...so somebody got to sit him down and...say 'Yo man, you're a basketball player...you got to play freaking basketball.'"
Zion Williamson didn't suit up at all this season. From training camp and the preseason to the playoffs, this Pelicans squad had to navigate the entire 2021-22 campaign without their star forward. Many speculated that the Duke product would lace up for the first-round against the injured Phoenix Suns and cause an upset, but he decided against it.
Shaquille O'Neal advises Zion Williamson to eat the right kind of food
While Charles Barkley suggested that someone should lecture Zion Williamson on his shape as Moses Malone did for him, Shaquille O'Neal recalled a personal story as well. The Big Diesel advised Williamson to eat right and that someone needs to inform him how to be fit.
The third-year pro is reportedly over 300 pounds and many analysts have stated that his injury struggles won't go away until he loses some weight.
Shaquille O'Neal said:
"For a young guy his age, you got to re-teach him how to be healthy. Because when you're young, you can eat anything. Like in my first four years, I didn't have a chef. I'm eating McDonald's and still going out, putting up big numbers...You have to re-teach him how to eat carbohydrates, proteins, certain supplements so he's definitely gonna have to come down.
"Not a lot but a little bit and he's gonna have to train. He's gonna have to get stronger and, you know, a lot of times you can't, predict the injuries but I think if you start healthy and remain healthy and keep getting healthy that could help."
While others suggested that Williamson should get into the gym, Shaquille O'Neal addressed the dietary side of the problem. Several reports from the 2021 offseason suggested that Williamson needs a new chef. The Pelicans organization also reportedly decided to change his diet plan and dedicated their training staff to getting him fit.
Shaquille O'Neal was also criticized for not staying in shape during his playing days so he doesn't want a talented young player like Williamson to make the same mistakes.
It is quite clear that Zion Williamson needs to lose weight and get in shape for NBA basketball. He is the future of the New Orleans Pelicans franchise and they have a shot at being one of the best teams in the West if he gets back healthy.
They have the right pieces like Devonte' Graham, Brandon Ingram, Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and most importantly, CJ McCollum. If Williamson joins this group, they could potentially climb from the play-in tournament to the top 4 spots in the conference next season.
Q. Can Zion Williamson lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a better playoff berth?
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