Photo: Zion Williamson
Not all parents of elite athletes are nuts. We’re reminded of that with comments from Zion Williamson’s step-father, Lee Anderson.
Following rapid speculation that Duke’s "Zeus of College Basketball" season will look for a way out of playing for the New Orleans Pelicans, the NBA team that won the lottery for the No. 1 draft pick, Anderson cleared up some questions while appearing Thursday on the New Orleans station ESPN’s 104.5 “Off the Bench.” Anderson is the man Williamson publicly thanks on social media on Father’s Day for raising him since he was 4-years-old, so his “step-father” title doesn’t diminish his voice.
“We're excited,” Anderson said about playing in New Orleans. "We're excited about that.”
Then he expanded on how they spoke with head coach Alvin Gentry and vice-president David Griffin.
"I spoke with Coach Gentry the other night and we met with Mr. Griffin, David Griffin, and then I spoke with him again last night," Anderson said. "We had a great conversation and we're excited about the prospects of coming down there and getting settled and looking for a place to stay and all of these good things."
He also said there was never any thought of returning to Duke, although Williamson is technically eligible to withdraw from the draft since he hasn't signed with an agent or a shoe company.
It was only a year ago that the parents of former Duke one-and-dones Wendell Carter Jr. and Gary Trent Jr. complained Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t use their son correctly. Their message was the John Wooden of this era wasn’t properly preparing their sons for the NBA (forget about education and their roles exploiting the college system).
And only two years ago, Lonzo Ball’s father Lamar Ball – the Marv Marinovich of basketball – complained former UCLA coach Steve Alford didn’t use his son properly. Then the Lakers drafted Lonzo in the first round and he double-downed with a guaranteed the Lakers would win the NBA title.
So far he’s 0-for-2 – on the Lakers making the playoffs. Now, Lonzo is known more for his nutty father than his basketball talent – or lack of it.
Remember when ESPN, Fox and Colin Coward (whom I otherwise think is one of the best in the business) repeatedly gave Lamar Ball a megaphone? They ballyhooed him as an iconoclastic, shaking up the shoe and endorsement industries with his own deals.
Anyone with such a simplistic opinion that Lamar Ball was an innovative businessman ready to beat the system is too far removed from high school sports scene. They fail to understand the prevalence of overbearing parents that think they know more than the coaches. The same is true with anyone thinking AAU coaches and runners for shoe companies and agents have the kids’ interest at heart.
It's another illustration of the lack of respect for teachers and coaches in American society.
Not too many No. 1 overall draft picks have had strong parental influence to keep them grounded that appears Williamson enjoys.
For every Magic Johnson (1979) and Shaquille O’Neal (1990) that did, there are more like Chris Webber (1993), Allen Iverson (1996), Derrick Rose (2008), John Wall (2010) and Kyrie Irving (2011) and Deandre Ayton (2018) with a selfish gene shared with their parents.
When the New York Knicks missed out the chance to draft Williamson No. 1 overall, there was so much buzz about how unlucky was Williamson to be stuck with the Pelicans.
The talk should be about how lucky Williamson was to have his parents keeping him grounded and that the sports world still has parents like Williamson’s.
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Tom Shanahan, Author: Raye of Light http://tinyurl.com/knsqtqu
-- Book on Michigan State's leading role in the integration of college football. It explains Duffy Daugherty's untold pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.
Don’t believe the myths at Duffy Daugherty’s expense about Bear Bryant’s motivation to play the 1970 USC-Alabama game or myths about the Charlie Thornhill-for-Joe Namath trade. Bear Bryant knew nothing about black talent in the South while he dragged his feet on segregation.
David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer; "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."