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Zion affirms passion for hoops amid criticism: 'I really love this shit'

Jeff Haynes / National Basketball Association / Getty

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson isn't having any of the widespread criticism of his effort level and passion for the game of basketball.

"People don't understand how much I really love this shit," Williamson told The Athletic's William Guillory. "I pour everything into doing my best for the team and for the people who support me in New Orleans."

Williamson's comments come while many in the media continue to poke fun at his weight and perceived lack of desire to remain in game shape, including ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith.

The criticisms were easier to make in previous seasons given how much time Williamson spent off the floor. The two-time All-Star played in just 29 of a possible 164 games before this season, being bogged down by various leg injuries.

Williamson has turned the page this year, playing in 49 of his team's 60 contests. Though his 22.4 points per game are the lowest in his career, he's setting a new best in assists at 5.5 a night.

More importantly, his play is helping the Pelicans surge up the standings, as they sit sixth in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

With Williamson playing some of his best basketball and remaining healthy, he's looking forward to continuing to reset the narrative.

"You can only go off the information that's in front of you," said Williamson. "But that’s the great thing about the opportunity we have the rest of the way. We get to write our own story."

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