Charles Barkley, renowned for his candid assessments, isn’t holding back when it comes to commenting on the physical condition of Zion Williamson, despite the latter being available for the New Orleans Pelicans this season.
While covering New Orleans’ In-Season Tournament quarterfinal victory against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday for TNT, Barkley’s comments about Williamson went viral, showcasing his unfiltered opinions.
Barkley remarked, “He’s not in shape. He doesn’t run, he plays the game strictly on talent. He never runs on the fast break; he’s kinda like jogging on offense and defense. Somebody has gotta get ahold of him because he’s got so much talent.”
Expressing concern for the young star, Barkley added, “He’s gonna be somewhat successful; he could be special … but he owns that organization already … It’s gotta come down to Zion. He needs to get in shape.” Barkley drew a parallel to his own career, citing how a veteran, Moses Malone, on the Philadelphia 76ers, had straightforwardly told him he was “fat and lazy.”
While acknowledging Williamson’s progress—having played in 18 out of 22 games this season and averaging an impressive 23-6-5 line—Barkley raised the issue of Williamson doing more work in the halfcourt than in transition. Barkley pointed out that Williamson rarely sprints up the floor at his full capacity.
Despite Williamson seemingly taking his conditioning more seriously in the past summer, Barkley, known as one of Williamson’s most vocal critics, remains unconvinced. The 23-year-old has faced challenges with weight issues and missed a significant number of games in the previous two NBA seasons due to injuries.
Barkley’s straightforward approach appears to be an attempt at motivation, leaving observers curious to see if his candid words will resonate with Zion.