Zion Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, is just 19 years old and was born in 2000. Because of this, Williamson grew up watching players like Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and LeBron James instead of Michael Jordan.
The NBA has entered an era where all of their new players are too young to have seen Jordan, Magic Johnson, and other legends from the previous golden era of basketball.
Because of this, players have begun to model their games after players like Bryant. In fact, many players often work out with Bryant rather than going to older former players. But while Williamson’s game is nothing like that, there is one part of Bryant’s career that he would like to emulate.
Bryant is famously known for playing all 20 seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers, which was an NBA record for the most seasons with one team, but was shortly passed by Nowitzki in his final season with the Dallas Mavericks. Williamson wants to be one of those players to do that, according to Macklin Stern of Complex:
“I’m gonna try to give you the best answer I can give. Personally, I’ve always told myself I want to stay with one team. Growing up, I loved what Kobe did and Dirk did, and I think if anybody’s a Michael Jordan fan, they kinda erase the Wizards thing. He still did very well there, but at the end of the day, I don’t think people look at it from the business point of view. Some people want to stay with one team but they get traded. My intentions are to stay with the Pelicans my whole career, but if something happens, I wouldn’t leave because I hate the place. It’s just the business.”
Williamson is obviously being very optimistic when he says this as in the modern NBA, it’s almost impossible to stay with one team for an entire career — something that was once such a common occurrence.
It felt as though Russell Westbrook might achieve this feat with the Oklahoma City Thunder before an impromptu rebuild sent him to the Houston Rockets. That leaves Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and perhaps a handful of other players that might finish their career having played for just one team.
However, it’s always good when players want to model some part of themselves after Bryant. After all, Bryant’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ got him five championships and an eventualy first-ballot Hall of Fame career.