Zion Williamson angers Suns with controversial end-of-game move
Zion Williamson ruffled a few feathers on Friday night.
Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans won an important game at home against the rival Phoenix Suns. The two teams entered played on Friday having the two best records in the Western Conference.
With the Pelicans leading by nine points and less than ten seconds left, the game was already decided. But when Suns guard Chris Paul missed a layup, Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. came down with the rebound and threw it up the floor to Williamson. Instead of dribbling out the clock, Williamson made a beeline for the basket and threw down a thundering 360 windmill dunk, much to the delight of the New Orleans crowd.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN… ZION WILLIAMSON. pic.twitter.com/MhjV7Zpl0R
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 10, 2022
Williamson’s jam angered the Phoenix players, including Paul and Cameron Payne, who were visibly upset. The two teams then got into a bit of a tussling match as the final buzzer sounded.
CP3 & the Suns didn't appreciate Zion throwing down a 360 windmill in the final seconds of the game! pic.twitter.com/JOycGISgHz
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 10, 2022
The Suns clearly felt that Williamson broke an unwritten rule by dunking the ball instead of running out the clock, as teams traditionally do on their final possession of a game in which they have a big lead.
Speaking during his postgame press conference after the dust had settled, Williamson, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, acknowledged that the move was a bit uncharacteristic for him. But he added that the Suns were the ones who sent his teammates home in the 2022 playoffs.
Zion on dunk: It was a little out of character for me but you have to understand, they sent my teammates home. #Pelicans
— Erin Summers (@ErinESummers) December 10, 2022
Indeed, the Suns and Pelicans met in the first round last season. Phoenix prevailed in six games but not without a lot of animosity between the two. Williamson’s controversial dunk is now further stoking the flames of this rivalry, which we will not have to wait long to see again as the two teams also play this coming Sunday in New Orleans.