It happens in a flash. If you look away for even a second, you’ll miss the show. After a few quick, powerful dribbles toward the basket, and from about a step inside the free throw line, the 19-year-old phenom Zion Williamson lifts off, cocks the ball back with his right hand, and slams it through the hoop, making it all look so easy.
No matter where he is, Williamson is the show—even in an abandoned warehouse in Los Angeles.
The warehouse falls silent in the wake of the monstrous dunk. An audience of about 50 remain frozen, amazed at what they’ve just witnessed. A sheepish grin breaks out across Williamson’s face as he observes the incredulous onlookers. The only thing you can hear in the gym is JAY-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis.” “I invented swag” echoes from the speakers.
“CUT!” a director shouts. It only took one take, and, of course, Air Zion stuck the landing.
The most hyped prospect since LeBron James is getting cinematic for a commercial for NBA2K. He’s now an official ambassador for the franchise, a fitting partnership, since he is a living, flying video game cheat code.
At this point, Williamson’s come-up is well documented. He burst onto the national scene at age 16 with thunderous dunks that captivated Instagram and Twitter. He was truly a prospect that fans saw grow from their phones to TVs in just a few years. He then quickly proved he wasn’t a one-trick pony at Duke, earning the National College Player of the Year Award as a freshman and becoming the first pick in the 2019 draft.
Of course, the cult of the mononymous “Zion” has extended far beyond the sidelines. He’s received co-signs from Drake and JAY-Z; Obama watched him play at Cameron Indoor; Rick Ross name-checked him on “Money in the Grave”; and just last week, the South Carolina native inked the most lucrative rookie sneaker deal ever with Jordan Brand, worth a reported $75 million over five years.
All of the hype has led to this point. Williamson is set to embark on his NBA journey, eager to lead the Pels to their first chip. Not only that, but contrary to the trend du jour of superstars taking their talents to larger NBA markets, he plans to remain in New Orleans for the long haul.
“Growing up, I loved what Kobe did and Dirk did… My intentions are to stay with the Pelicans my whole career,” he tells Complex in an exclusive interview.
In between takes at the 2K shoot, we chopped it up with Williamson about his new team’s ceiling, why he thinks Lonzo Ball can be the best point guard in the NBA, potentially reuniting with RJ Barrett, and more.
This content was originally published here.