Zion Williamson, the former No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, has faced a significant hurdle in his young career: a series of injuries that have kept him off the court for substantial periods, including the entire 2021-22 season.
While many factors have contributed to these setbacks, four-time NBA champion John Salley recently offered his perspective on Williamson’s weight-related struggles.
Salley didn’t mince words when sharing his views on the matter. He began by acknowledging Williamson’s college days in the ACC, albeit with a playful jab at his alma mater, Duke.
“I like that he played in the ACC but I don’t like that he played at Duke,” Salley told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson with a laugh. “But definitely liked that he was in the ACC, and there are things that didn’t have anything to do with basketball… When you become a professional athlete, EVERYTHING becomes a part of that profession—your intake of food, your workout regimen, your hangout regimen, your mentality of study.”
Salley emphasized that Williamson’s weight gain was not entirely his fault, attributing it, in part, to the stark contrast between the NBA and college basketball schedules.
He highlighted the physical demands of the NBA, which includes playing approximately 15 games a month compared to the 30-game college season. These factors, coupled with the challenges of adjusting to an NBA player’s lifestyle, have played a role in Williamson’s journey.
“I wanted to get down there but it wasn’t his fault because the Western diet is what everybody believes works and it doesn’t,” Salley said. “Plant based and literally it’s how you put things in your body: What is in your water? Do you have time for any sugary drinks? Do you have any time for fast food?… Not when you’re trying to be a Formula One car, you only have the time for octane. If you wanna be a ‘clunker’, you can eat the other stuff.”