Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t get to watch Zion Williamson’s highly anticipated NBA debut on Wednesday night.
He was actually fast asleep in a hotel in Paris — where the Milwaukee Bucks will face off against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday — due to the time change, and missed the entire thing.
Antetokounmpo, however, did have some advice for Williamson as he embarks on his professional basketball career.
“You’re going to be a beast. The whole league knows you’re going to be a beast,” Antetokounmpo said, via ESPN. “Just take it step by step, day by day.”
Williamson missed the first 44 games for the New Orleans Pelicans this season while recovering from arthroscopic surgery in his right knee, and finally made his debut on Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center. While he took his time easing into the game, the reigning No. 1 overall draft pick took off in the fourth quarter, dropping 17 straight points in just more than three minutes in an incredible showing.
Though Wednesday night’s outing is likely a sign of what’s to come for Williamson, Antetokounmpo doesn’t want him to rush into anything — especially after the knee issues he’s already had this season.
“Obviously he’s a tough kid,” Antetokounmpo said, via ESPN. “My advice that I gave to him: Just have patience and make sure you’re healthy. Because I saw some highlights and saw he was wearing a sleeve on his knee and was hurting.
“Don’t rush, don’t rush the process.”
Adam Silver thinks Williamson can handle extra attention
Naturally, Williamson’s debut in New Orleans created a media circus.
It’s easy to understand why, too. Williamson is one of the best players to enter the league in some time, and his debut was delayed three months. When he finally did take the court, nearly everyone in the basketball world wanted to tune in.
While that kind of attention can be a lot to handle — especially for a 19-year-old — NBA commissioner Adam Silver thinks that Williamson is more than prepared for what’s coming his way off the court.
“It comes with the territory, and he has been under as spotlight long before he even played in the national limelight at the Duke University,” Silver said, via ESPN. “He is going to be a social media star these days, and again, it’s not easy for these young players, but I think he is built to be a big-time player and can handle these big moments.”
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