Duke basketball fans have long believed Zion Williamson comes from another planet, but the glowing superhuman’s origin is more likely the sun.
Former Duke basketball one-and-done Zion Williamson is already a member of the One-Name Club. However, as a household name, the man deserves a proper nickname — outside of just his first name — even if only to spark creativity inside those minds responsible for marketing the New Orleans Pelicans rookie forward.
Obviously, the moniker must be fitting and easy to remember. Preferably, and even if inadvertently, the originator of the one-word endearment would be Williamson’s Hall of Fame college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, whose letter K is adequate for his own widespread identification.
ALSO READ: The 100 greatest Blue Devils under Coach K
So what is the nickname idea? First, as a hint, look at what symbolically shines through on Williamson’s half of the screen below throughout his 30-minute #NBATogether chat from Monday evening with TNT lead voice Ernie Johnson:
Yes, as the 6-foot-6, 285-pound 19-year-old confirmed — beginning at the 18-minute mark in the above video — the 73-year-old Duke basketball head coach has described him as a Sunshine person. Well, Brilliant Sunshine, to be exact. But even though Brilliant also seems apropos, the math says that’s one word too many for a one-word nickname. Either way, in the manner of a self-help guru, Williamson seems to embrace the label:
“I think that’s just who I am. You know, it’s gonna be a lot of up-and-downs in life. But what’s wrong with carrying a smile on your face when going through all that? What’s wrong with always just trying to make the most of a situation and have fun? You know, you only live life once. And I just want to have fun. And I don’t ever want to waste my time being all pouty and stuff, so I just try to make the most of life and have fun with it.”
It is the opposite of the average force-a-smile faces you see on TV and in public places, in that Williamson looks to be in a constant struggle to prevent a pulled face muscle from smiling too wide and often. It shows in the way he has fervently rooted for both his Duke and New Orleans teammates whenever stuck on the bench with knee injuries.
It shows in his gesture to pay the salaries of the Smoothie King Center workers for a month, which he announced within days of the NBA putting the season on hold. Speaking of the hiatus, in typical Sunshine Show fashion, Williamson managed to shine a positive light on the situation when speaking with Johnson:
“I have a goal at my house. With a goal, there’s a way…It sucks because I just came back after sitting out three to four months without playing basketball…but from a being-smart perspective, I think [the break] is a good thing. It gives me extra time to work on my knee and just work on my body overall…I’m staying ready [to play] for my teammates.”
Yet more sunshine imagery popped up in the conversation. Williamson, who has averaged 23.9 points and 6.8 rebounds across 19 games this season while helping to put the Pelicans into playoff contention, used a word that means “a burst of bright flame or light” to shed light on how he sees his unique style of play:
“Honestly, I don’t think I play like anybody. I try to bring my own flare, my tenacity to the game, and that’s what I want to be known for. I don’t want to be known as anybody else. I wanna be known as Zion — and only Zion.”
Oops. Nevermind then. Forget about the entire nickname proposition in this article.
Sure, Zion “Sunshine” Williamson sure would all kinda rhyme just right in the drawl one might hear at, say, the popular Whataburger in his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C. But seeing that only Zion is sufficient in the eyes of Zion, the proud Zion supporters at that establishment would probably just propose that we go ahead and stick the Sunshine idea where the sun won’t shine.
Will do. We’ll just blame this entire article on Coach K plus the arrival of spring sunshine amidst all the isolation indoors without any new Zion highlights to watch.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more updates, analyses, and opinions regarding Zion Williamson and all things Duke basketball.