The New Orleans Pelicans played the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night in a game that featured a whole bunch of prominent players, none of whom were Zion Williamson. The Pelicans’ standout forward is still sidelined as he works his way back from offseason foot surgery, and while the original line that came out of the organization was that he would be ready for the opener, we now sit 2-3 weeks away from whatever the latest update might be about his ability to play anytime soon.
In the midst of that, a video popped up on the internet of Williamson doing a pregame workout and looking like he has gotten bulkier as he’s been away from basketball. It was a cause for concern among the Inside the NBA crew, with Charles Barkley looking back on his experience as a player who needed to get his weight in a good place during his career.
“It looked like me and Shaq had a baby,” Barkley said, much to the big man’s delight.
Once the laughs stopped — well, from everyone other than Shaq — Barkley was more serious about how he thinks Williamson looks, leaning on his own struggles with being in shape during his career.
“I’m concerned,” Barkley said. “I am really concerned about … I tell this story, and I’m being critical, it is what it is.”
“Moses Malone,” Kenny Smith said.
“Moses Malone said to me, he said I was fat and lazy,” Barkley said. “And I started to cry a little bit.”
Barkley went on to call it “the turning point of my career” before turning his attention back to Williamson.
“He’s already hurt, you should not get hurt when you’re young,” Barkley said. “And he’s already had surgeries on his legs, now he’s got a broken foot, he gonna have to learn, even when you’re hurt, you’re gonna have to control your eating. When guys get hurt, Adam, and they come back, you’re trying to get in shape. And if you’re putting on that stress on your knees and your feet, you’re just gonna keep getting hurt.
“Somebody’s got to be a grown person down in that relationship and say, ‘Yo, man, you got to get in shape.’”
Referencing the amount of power that Williamson appears to have in the organization, Barkley said that fears of him leaving exist, but at the same time, he does not believe that the Pelicans will win anything with a perpetually-injured version of the young All-Star.
Smith chimed in that Williamson isn’t in “basketball shape,” and that he is skeptical that Williamson is anywhere near ready for a return.