The dates of Oct. 29, 2003, and Jan. 22, 2020, have a lot of similarities in terms of highly anticipated NBA games.
Just like James’ first NBA game, many eyes were on Williamson to see if he lived up to the hype since being selected as New Orleans’ No. 1 draft pick in last June.
James was also a No. 1 draft pick when he was picked up by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in 2003.
James had 25 points when he played against the Sacramento Kings in his first game, and it’s safe to say he silenced many who doubted if he would be a success in the NBA.
Williamson’s debut was also considered impressive by many, especially because it was his first game since recovering from a torn meniscus.
The 19-year-old started Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs but only played for a handful of minutes in each quarter.
Williamson had an impressive assist in the first quarter, got his first NBA basket in the second, but it was in the fourth quarter that he would truly shine.
With the Spurs leading 99-91, Williamson went on an offensive tear and scored 17 straight points in a little over three minutes.
He mainly did it from behind the three-point line, making four in a row, which drove hometown fans in New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center wild.
But the 6-foot-6 forward also caught a lob from point guard Lonzo Ball, which illustrated his much-talked-about athleticism. Plus, the Duke alum caught his own miss and put it back up, displaying his quick jumping and putback skills.
The Pelicans lead the game 107-106 after Williamson’s last 3-pointer. But with 5:23 left in the game, coach Alvin Gentry decided to sit him, since he had played his longest stretch of the night.
Williamson left the game with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The reactions to his impressive debut on social media and other places were plentiful.
“I was shocked with how well Zion played in the amount of time that he played,” said Fox Sports 1’s Shannon Sharpe. “I think the most shocking thing were the 3s; we never saw this at Duke. It’s hard not to be impressed.”
“Zion blackin,” someone else tweeted during the game.
“Potential goat,” a third person wrote on Twitter.
“One hell of a debut,” another person stated
The Spurs still ended up winning the game, however, 121-117.