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NBA debut of Zion Williamson includes emphatic dunk, loud roar, knee-to-knee injury and one earthquake — which postponed Pelicans-Knicks matchup and put in doubt the rest of summer league tournament

The highly anticipated debuts of RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson took a backseat to Mother Nature.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 1 - New York Knicks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Zion Williamson’s first summer league action, an affair between the New Orleans Pelicans and the New York Knicks, had literally a little bit of everything.

Although he began the contest in eerily quiet fashion and settled for a few outside jumpers, Zion ratcheted up the fun factor quite a few levels after the first timeout. Following the break of play, fans witnessed a couple of impressive and powerful finishes inside the paint, a sky-walking block — though it didn’t count, a strip-steal-massive-dunk-super roar over poor Kevin Knox... injury

...and one seismic event.

That’s right, Griff, the shaking inside the Thomas & Mack center was due to a 6.9 earthquake that hit about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, and it wasn’t the fault of Zion or Frank Jackson, who had 30 points and five threes in 24 minutes, but rather Mother Nature.

After ESPN teased us with an all too oft-repeated phrase “as soon as the speakers stop swaying, play will resume,” the league smartly decided to suspend play for the rest of the night.

As of this writing it’s unclear whether this game will be made up (as stated by the PA announcer) or how the rest of the schedule will be affected.

This news is unfortunate for a number of reasons. First and foremost, a few of us from The Bird Writes — including myself — are headed towards Las Vegas tomorrow. Who knows what we’re going to be walking into! Second, the Pelicans were flying towards an unlikely victory with some curious contributions.

New Orleans had trailed by as many as 20 points in the second quarter, but behind Jackson’s scoring outburst, Kenrich Williams steady play across the board (five points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals), Kavell Bigby-Williams surprising line of 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 16 minutes — Christian Wood was held out of tonight’s action, and good production from Aubrey Dawkins and Zylan Cheatham off the bench, the Pelicans were primed to escape with a win.

Of course, let’s back up for a moment. This was a meaningless exhibition game, so who cares about any wins and losses. Furthermore, the future face of the franchise sustained an injury. Although it doesn’t sound like its anything to worry about, I do think we need to be concerned about Zion’s availability for the rest of summer league action. There was talk of already preventing him from playing in back-to-backs. Now after a mild injury scare, perhaps the Pelicans put on the kid gloves?


Most of us, like the sold-out Thomas & Mack Center, had tuned in for basketball featuring the debuts of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Now we’re not even sure if we’ll see Zion play again in this tournament or if the rest of the games can be finished as originally scheduled.

Maybe Josh Hart is onto something.

They should just move summer league down to New Orleans.