Although their win over the New Orleans Pelicans was crucial in the New York Knicks' pursuit of a playoff berth, Pels star Zion Williamson's postgame remarks were possibly as exciting for the franchise's fanbase.
Despite the Pelicans conceding a late three on a botched defensive play forcing overtime - which the Knicks subsequently won - Williamson was still riding a wave of excitement from his first NBA appearance at Madison Square Garden:
"New York is the mecca of basketball. I love playing here. I played here in college [at Duke]. This is my first time playing in the pros. This atmosphere, whether they’re cheering for you or booing you, it’s amazing. Outside of New Orleans, obviously, this might be my favorite place to play. I can’t lie to you," said the Pelicans star.
Zion Williamson's comments have sparked intrigue into what the Knicks could achieve in the coming years. Thibodeau is currently building the template for future success and has the Knicks firmly in the East's 6th seed after six wins on the bounce. Therefore, a move for a superstar such as Williamson in the near future is the logical next step, the prospect of which we will look at in this article.
NBA News: Could Zion Williamson someday be the face of the New York Knicks franchise?
Zion Williamson was utterly dominant in his first Garden appearance since entering the league on Monday, putting up 34 points and 9 rebounds. Although the former No.1 pick had played on the fabled court for Duke, injuries prevented the Pelicans forward from appearing against the Knicks on the road last season. As is the case in most games Williamson plays, the 20-year-old was unfazed by the famous arena.
NBA fans are well aware of Zion's abilities, however. what was far more eye-catching from his MSG performance was his postgame love for the Knicks' home.
On Monday morning, Adrian Wojnarowski addressed the issue on ESPN, giving New York Knicks fans more hope by saying that Williamson's comments were 'something to watch'.
Zion Williamson is, of course, only in his sophomore season and any potential deal to move to the New York Knicks is some way away. Williamson only becomes a restricted free agent in 2023. Therefore, Knicks fans may have to wait a considerable time before they can bring in the generational talent they were hoping to draft had the lottery gods not acted against them in 2019.
Williamson has all the attributes to become one of the game's greats, already averaging 26.8 points per game in his first full campaign. He leads all Pelicans players in scoring and thus has a win share of 7.5, shooting the ball at over 61% from the floor while also grabbing 7.1 rebounds.
Since the New York Knicks are back in the win column and could be bound for their first playoff appearance since 2013, they will be able to begin attracting the league's best players once more.
Zion Williamson could be the first big name and already possesses the traits to make the Knicks a championship-challenging team. Until then, though, Knicks fans will have to enjoy the success Thibodeau is building at the franchise and look forward to what could come.