Zion Williamson isn’t the No. 1 player in his recruiting class, but he’s the most-hyped high school basketball player since LeBron James. You could even argue that he’s more popular than James was (the guy knows Drake personally, for heaven’s sake).
The internet has turned Williamson into America’s next basketball sensation, thanks to highlight reels of him throwing down monster dunk after monster dunk. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Johnson broke down why Williamson is so famous in today’s internet age, with the help of analysis from others.
The chase-down rejection was a viral hit, but Williamson is known primarily for his mind-blowing dunks. He has claimed the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10, attracted interest from Good Morning America, received a Twitter shoutout from Steph Curry and struck up a texting relationship with Canadian rapper Drake. Among high school basketball players Williamson is a celebrity on a scale perhaps not seen since LeBron James.
Other prep stars, such as John Wall, Thon Maker and Seventh Woods, have captivated millions of viewers with memorable mixtapes, and LaMelo Ball, the youngest brother in America’s most inescapable hoops family, has cultivated a vast online following, thanks mostly to his publicity-hungry father.
But Williamson is unique in his capacity to consistently produce stunning plays that send tremors across basketball Twitter and serve as fodder for mesmerizing YouTube clips.
(Shoutout to John Wall for making his way into this).
But for all the hype Williamson has, SI has also posted an article by the very same Chris Johnson on why the comparisons between he and LeBron need to stop. Here’s an excerpt:
You may have come across a headline or two suggesting a resemblance (One example: “Is SC dunking phenom Zion Williamson basketball’s next LeBron James?”), and SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy posed the "Next LeBron" question during a March interview with Williamson. “Um, as good as that sounds, uh, I’m just trying to be myself,” he replied.
And that’s where the conversation ought to end. Williamson should not be compared to LeBron, because they are two different players who came of age in different eras.
Johnson’s right; plus there will never be another LeBron James anyway (except maybe LeBron James Jr.? Who knows).