NBA All-Stars, rookie phenom Zion marvel at fan Obama
Zion Williamson found it crazy Friday to learn that former US President Barack Obama was among his most devoted and dedicated supporters at an NBA All-Star Game event in Chicago.
Obama chatted with the 19-year-old rookie star forward of the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of Sunday’s 69th showdown of elite NBA talent, impressing the prodigy with his knowledge.
“He said I was playing great. I kind of zoned out after that. That’s all I needed to hear, to be honest,” Williamson said.
“He was even talking about my recent games. I was like, ‘You’re keeping up with me? I’m 19, man. You’ve got superstars you can go and keep up with.’ It was crazy.”
Obama told Slovenian guard Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, “You are doing fantastic,” and impressed Atlanta’s Trae Young, another All-Star Game starter.
“He just loves watching me. He watches me all the time,” Young said Obama told him. “Telling me how it’s going to turn for the Hawks in the future — it’s crazy that he knew all those different things about me.”
Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel says it’s par for the course for an ex-president who is a noted basketball fan to have supporters among NBA players.
“There’s really nothing like it,” Vogel said. “He’s a young president who is really beloved by all of America but in particular the NBA family. He’s so in-tune with our game and it was a great honor to meet him.”
No one was more thrilled than Williamson, who made his NBA debut on January 22 after missing three months with a knee injury.
He scored 32 points in a 123-118 loss Thursday to Oklahoma City. With 221 points in 10 games, he joins Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson as the only players with more than 200 points in their first 10 league appearances.
“He said, ‘Career-high 32.’ Crazy,” Williamson said of Obama. “For him to keep up with all of us, hats off to him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, just knowing us, knowing our stats.”