Monday afternoon, news broke that Pelicans rookie, awe-inspiring phenom and the subject of numerous long-forgotten basketball prophecies, Zion Williamson, will miss the first 6-8 weeks of the NBA season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right meniscus. No reaction to this news is complete or legitimate without first acknowledging that this is a devastating development for anyone who loves this league and, of course, for Zion himself (human to human, injuries are brutal and we wish him the best). On a basketball note, Williamson looked every bit as exceptional as advertised this preseason, and the Pelicans are primed to be one of the most fun young teams the NBA has seen in a long while - a League Pass must-watch of the highest caliber.
But, unfortunately, the show will have to go on in New Orleans without their No. 1 overall pick, at least for the time being. In the wake of the initial report, NBA Twitter was ablaze with reactions, as one might expect. Among the highlights…
Historical comparisons were pondered:
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) October 21, 2019
The fewest games played by a Rookie of the Year is still Patrick Ewing's 50 out of 82 for the Knicks in 1985-86
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 21, 2019
All missed their entire rookie year but Zion out 2 months n he Greg Oden 2.0 don't y'all get tired of being wrong
— bankrich (@RichAmazigh) October 21, 2019
Meniscuses (menisci?) were offered up:
— Ralph Malbrough (@SaintsForecast) October 21, 2019
Pelican win total has gone from 38.5 to 35.5, and now with Zion surgery, has gone off the board.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 21, 2019
NBA Rookie of the Year updated
Ja Morant 2/1
Zion Williamson 3/1
RJ Barrett 4/1
Tyler Herro 10/1
Coby White 10/1
Rui Hachimura 12/1
Darius Garland 20/1
Jarrett Culver 20/1
Michael Porter Jr 20/1
De'Andre Hunter 40/1
Carsen Edwards 50/1
Brandon Clarke 50/1
Cam Reddish 60/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) October 21, 2019
When I said I'm getting on the Pelicans bandwagon and now Zion is out 6-8 weeks pic.twitter.com/5e8LbkDBPE
— Megan (@megreyes_) October 21, 2019
There is a silver lining for Bulls fans in all of this, though. Right now, barring a highly improbable (to put it lightly) NBA Finals matchup, the Bulls and Pelicans are slated to face off twice in the regular season, the first meeting of which will be on January 8 in New Orleans. According to the reported 6-8 week recovery timetable for Williamson, he should be set to return some time in between late November and mid-December. That means there's a good chance Williamson will suit up for both games against the Bulls this season - unless, of course, nagging injuries plague his rookie campaign (please no).
The city of Chicago got a taste of the legend of Zion this preseason, when the Pelicans visited the United Center on October 9. Williamson was exquisite in that contest, tallying 29 points on 12-of-13 shooting in 27 minutes of game action, accumulating a number of highlight-reel plays along the way:
Now, let us all come together and pray to the basketball gods for a speedy recovery and a long and healthy career for the Duke product. No matter your allegiances, there's no doubt the NBA is better and more exciting league with him in it.