Zion: My family was getting harassed over my future with Pelicans
As he put pen to paper on a reported five-year, $231-million max extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson recalled a personal "roller coaster of emotions" faced by him and his family all throughout last season.
"I felt it the most for my family because in the beginning of the season, I told the world: 'If y'all ever want to know if I want to be here, just ask me,'" he told reporters Wednesday. "And instead of asking me, the world just ran with narratives.
"And so when my family was going out in public, they're getting harassed by people on why we don't like New Orleans, or why I don't want to be here, when that wasn't the case."
Williamson has consistently maintained he wants to be in New Orleans, even as a fractured foot kept him out for the entire 2021-22 campaign. However, multiple reports within the last year painted the image of a fracturing relationship between the franchise and the former No. 1 overall pick.
However, the Duke product said the Pelicans organization worked tirelessly to make sure he was happy, including franchise owner Gayle Benson and executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin.
"It was a roller coaster, for sure. But my family, the Pels, Ms. Benson, they were always there," he said. "Griff would call me into his office - too much if you ask me - but him and (general manager Trajan Langdon) would always drop gems on me. They would just give me knowledge on a situation, what they think I could do to mentally feel better. They always offered help, when they didn't have to do that.
"Coach (Willie) Green, same for him. He kept his distance but he'd also come drop gems on me. The people that I needed to be there for me, they were all there."
Williamson averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 61 games in 2020-21 while also earning his first and only All-Star selection. His extension with New Orleans will reportedly pay him at least $193 million through 2027-28, but he can boost his total earnings to $231 million by satisfying certain incentives.