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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Zion Williamson

Newspaper perfectly sums up Knicks’ disappointing draft lottery with back cover

Knicks logo

A New York newspaper perfectly summed up the reaction to the outcome of the NBA draft lottery for the New York Knicks.

The Knicks entered the lottery as one of three teams with a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick in this year’s draft, which meant the opportunity to select Zion Williamson. Needless to say, Knicks fans weren’t happy to find out that New York would be picking third.

As a result of the Knicks’ recent stretch of bad luck continuing, the New York Daily News will run a back page headline that encapsulates how many Knicks fans felt after Tuesday’s lottery.

The No. 3 pick could still be used to select Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett, both of who are projected to have bright futures. However, the No. 1 pick and dreams of Zion Williamson playing home games in Madison Square Garden are what Knicks fans hoped for. It’s something he also reportedly was hoping for too. Unfortunately for them, that will not be happening.

Report: Zion Williamson was hoping for Knicks to win draft lottery

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has been great in his dealings with the media about not tipping his hand regarding his preference of which NBA team he wanted to play for. But one report says he had a preference, and it did not come through the way he had hoped.

According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, Williamson was hoping the New York Knicks would win the draft lottery.

Instead, the Knicks ended up with the No. 3 overall pick, while the New Orleans Pelicans won the top pick.

Any team that won the lottery has been expected to take Williamson with the top pick, as he’s believed to be the best player in the draft class. He’s also a huge ticket draw, just like this video could tell you.

Even if he had his preference, it probably won’t take long for Williamson to get used to the idea of playing for the Pelicans. Now that they have a new front office person in charge in David Griffin, they should be on a much better path moving forward. Williamson is a great starting point.

Zion Williamson hoping to get drafted by Atlanta Hawks?

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson is an extremely polished young player, deft with handling the media and answering difficult questions. And while he’s already professional in interviews and with reporters, he may have inadvertently tipped his preference about what NBA team he would like to play for.

Williamson was in Chicago for the NBA draft lottery and walked across the line of podiums set up for the teams in the lottery. He did something notable upon seeing the Atlanta Hawks logo, giving it a double tap.

That didn’t seem to be accidental. He was looking at each one as he walked by and gave the tap specifically for the Hawks.

Atlanta had the 5th-worst record in the league and a 10.5 percent chance of winning the top pick, where they would be able to get Williamson. They have John Collins and Trae Young, and Williamson, the former Duke star from South Carolina, would fit in perfectly with them.

Blue Jays pitcher compares Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to Zion Williamson

Vladimir Guerrero Jr

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s MLB debut Friday night was a huge event in Toronto, and one Blue Jay had a rather apt comparison for it.

Pitcher Marcus Stroman, who started the game and pitched seven outstanding innings, compared it to playing with future NBA phenom Zion Williamson.

“It’s like having Zion Williamson on your team; it’s like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent,” Stroman said, via ESPN. “So just to have the opportunity to play with him, it’s amazing to look out there and see him behind me at third base. I think he’s gonna give us a huge little edge, and just, like I said, just carry this momentum from this win into every other start.”

Guerrero paid tribute to his father on arrival, then set up a walk-off homer with his first MLB hit, a double in the ninth. The hype generated by his debut is certainly comparable to Zion-mania, and there’s a lot of excitement to see what kind of numbers Guerrero can put up.

Watch: Zion Williamson dunks for couple’s baby gender reveal

Zion Williamson gender reveal

When it comes to baby gender reveals, this one may top them all.

Nolan Burg works for Duke athletics and used his connections to orchestrate a great gender reveal. He and his wife Danielle got Blue Devils star Zion Williamson to dunk a ball that was coordinated with the mascot releasing blue and white confetti to show they were having a boy.

If you ask me, everything in life is better with Zion Williamson involved, and that includes gender reveals. Maybe he can offer that service to others.

That was probably our favorite sports-related gender reveal since Joey Logano’s awesome one.

Zion Williamson officially declares for NBA Draft

Zion Williamson

As everyone expected, Zion Williamson is going pro.

In a video posted to his Instagram page, Williamson thanked Duke, coach Mike Krzyzewski, and his mother before officially declaring for the NBA Draft.

View this post on Instagram

Thank you Duke#thebrotherhood

A post shared by Zion Williamson (@zionlw10) on

Everyone saw this coming, and Williamson came close to confirming it after Duke was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. In his only season at Duke, he averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, sweeping the Wooden, Naismith, and AP Player of the Year awards.

Williamson will be the heavy favorite to become the first overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. The lottery will be held on May 14, and it may determine his destination.

Michael Avenatti accuses Nike of paying Zion Williamson’s mom Sharonda Sampson

Zion Williamson

Michael Avenatti has kicked his Nike accusations into high gear.

Avenatti, an attorney known for representing Stormy Daniels in her case against Donald Trump, is being accused of attempting to extort Nike. He allegedly threatened to go public with accusations against Nike if they did not pay him.

Avenatti has decided to go public in the last 24 hours with his accusations anyway.

On Friday night, Avenatti accused Nike exec Carlton DeBose of bribing high schoolers so that they would attend Nike-sponsored colleges. He later accused Nike of making payments to Zion Williamson’s mother Sharonda Sampson for bogus “consulting services”, which he says were bribes.

Williamson ended up choosing to attend Duke for college. The Blue Devils have been sponsored by Nike since 1992, and Coach K has extremely strong ties to the brand. He has previously denied any wrongdoing in a scandal involving improper payments that has rocked the college basketball world.

Duke says they are aware of the allegations and are investigating matters.

“We are aware of the allegation and, as we would with any compliance matter, are looking into it. Duke is fully committed to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations,” Duke AD Kevin White wrote in a statement to The Chronicle. “Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility. With regard to men’s basketball: all recruits and their families are thoroughly vetted by Duke in collaboration with the NCAA through the Eligibility Center’s amateurism certification process.”

Nike says they will not respond to Avenatti’s claims.

“Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the tournament. Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case,” the apparel company said in a statement via Dan Wetzel.

Avenatti continues to assert that Nike is guilty.

“Nike is guilty of rampant criminal conduct in bribing players for years and has been striving for weeks now to distract away from their bribery and fraud perpetrated at the highest levels. They knew they could not keep it secret any longer so they lied to the government and enlisted them in their scheme. If I’m lying about what Nike has done, why don’t they deny the bribery? They are guilty as hell.”

In case you are unfamiliar with how these bribery schemes work, sneaker companies have a lot to gain in sales through brand exposure. They sponsor college programs as part of their marketing, and being linked to star athletes and winning programs helps their brand and sales. Some companies believe that if they can bribe top high school athletes to play for college programs they sponsor, they will have a lot to gain. They also are attempting to build relationships with these athletes in case they become stars in the pros. A star player like Zion is extremely attractive to these companies; fans will want to buy Williamson’s gear, which is why so many companies are competing to sign him as he enters the NBA.