The NBA Draft is a chance for teams to find the next LeBron James or a hidden gem to hopefully take their franchise to the next level. At the 2019 NBA Draft, that aired on June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., all eyes were on Duke’s freshman phenom, Zion Williamson (we mean, C’MON). And after the New Orleans Pelicans secured the #1 overall pick and traded away All-Star Anthony Davis to the Lakers, Williamson was a mortal lock to land in the Crescent City. The Pelicans wasted no time making their selection. SPOILER: It was Zion Williamson (who at just 18-years-old and 285 pounds, becomes the second biggest player in the league.) The Twitter takes came in hot.
“Let the Zion era begin. Absolutely love his fit in NOLA. Alvin Gentry wants to play small and fast, ideal for a player like Zion. Guards almost every position and is a mismatch nightmare on the other end,” ESPN NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz tweeted.
Williamson was overcome with emotion, thanking his mother while speaking with ESPN‘s Maria Taylor. “I mean, I don’t know what to say. I didn’t think I’d be in this position,” Williamson said after leaving the stage. “My mom sacrificed a lot for me. I wouldn’t be here without my mom. She did everything for me. I just want to thank her. She put her dreams aside for mine.”
The heartwarming scene didn’t go unnoticed by the Twitterverse. “Struck me that Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech in 2009 led to him being mocked relentlessly for crying. Tonight, with the NBA affecting hearts and minds being the progressive league that it is for the last decade, Zion Williamson is celebrated for his tears on draft night,” NBA reported David McMenamin tweeted.
“That interview by @Zionwilliamson is why he will succeed at a high level. He has basketball in his DNA. Basketball is a competitive sport but there is a word called humility that has to be apart of the equation for success,” former NBA great Rod Strickland wrote.
“He knew for about 9 months he’d be the top pick, he’s been fawned over everywhere he’s gone, and yet he still is authentically humbled and emotional about this moment. Zion Williamson is so refreshing,” Washington Wizards beat reporter Candace Buckner wrote.
Murray State’s Ja Morant, Duke’s RJ Barrett, Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter rounded out the top 4. Hunter landed with the Atlanta Hawks after a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, making for an awkward situation. “DeAndre Hunter is talking about how excited he is to be an Atlanta Hawk while wearing a Lakers hat. It’s 2019. We can do better,” OddSharks Nick Kostos wrote.
There were several interesting stories and drama as well. Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura (above) became the first Japanese-born lottery pick ever in NBA Draft history after being selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards. “It’s been crazy,” Hachimura told reporters the day before the draft (via The New York Times. “I can’t even believe when I started playing basketball, the coach pointed at me and he said, ‘You’re going N.B.A.’ And somehow, I was stupid, and I believed him.”
The 7’2″ Bol Bol, son of former NBA player Manute Bol, was expected to hear his name called early, but the skilled big man, who showed up happy in a black suit with sequined spider web on shoulder, had an agonizing night. Due to medical concerns, he fell all the way to #44 to the Miami Heat who then traded his draft rights to the Denver Nuggets – his father’s former team. Twitter was not pleased with the wait.
“rt if you’re only staying up to see bol bol drafted,” SB Nation’s entertainment editor tweeted. “America just wants Bol Bol to get drafted at this point. Someone please draft that man so i can turn this off,” another user tweeted. Bol looked bummed to be drafted that late, but once his name was called, he found a new mission. “The wait is over,” he told ESPN‘s Maria Taylor. “I just want to prove everyone wrong and come out and be the best player I can be,” he added.
Duke University had a great night. Not only did their former star go #1 overall, the program added its name to few NBA Draft records in the process. “Zion Williamson (1st) and RJ Barrett (3rd) are the 6th set of college teammates to be drafted in top-3 in Common Draft Era, and the 2nd from Duke, joining Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy Jr. in 2002. Duke is the only school to produce two top-3 picks twice in Common Draft Era,” ESPN Stats & Info tweeted.
And with Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish all going in the top 10, the joined rarified air. “Duke joins Florida as the only schools in the Common Draft Era to have 3 players selected in the top 10 of the same draft,” SportsCenter tweeted.
The NBA’s new generation of potential stars are ready to lace them up for the new season. We know you’re ready for more tweets:
Someone get Coby White a bigger hat ? pic.twitter.com/3RXYtXRvRU
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2019
Bol Bol pulled up like a supervillain ?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 20, 2019
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) June 21, 2019
With his son, Bol Bol, about to be drafted…I think it’s only right we resurface this picture of Manute Bol swimming pic.twitter.com/7lG7ZaVv2Q
— michael (@mikeytwos) June 21, 2019
Tyler Herro already looking like a Miami connect pic.twitter.com/wziag4gGi7
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) June 21, 2019
Zion looks like a Nollywood Wilson Fisk pic.twitter.com/j949tVHKlP
— Zito (@_Zeets) June 20, 2019
The best part of Denver getting bol bol is that he and Isaiah Thomas can recreate this photo pic.twitter.com/m97XqN3BH5
— trey scardino (@treyscardino) June 21, 2019
Zion looks like somebody’s uncle & Bol Bol looks like a cool villain in a Marvel blockbuster pic.twitter.com/THOmgglVpF
— Noah Pitts (@Noahie24) June 21, 2019
Bol Bol dressed like a sidequest boss who drops potions and a wizard robe with +5 defense against spider venom pic.twitter.com/BGM9a1dkVP
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) June 20, 2019
— Shan (@shanuddin889) June 21, 2019