So maybe he wasn’t the greatest player in ACC history, maybe not even the greatest freshman.
But as we watch Zion Williamson walk away from the college game, leaving behind a one-year story that was part truth and part fable, we can all say we saw him play. We saw the remarkable phenomenon that he became.
We watched the entire story right before our eyes, and no matter what he becomes at the next level, no matter how big he becomes or however long he plays, we watched the most intriguing college basketball player to ever come through the ACC.
Duke became must-watch basketball. It was a show every week, and the storyline played out unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The story ran backward, a blast from nowhere to begin a season, a fall from the very height of the game, and then a long, excruciating dance to an imperfect end.
And through it all, we didn’t miss a scene. You didn’t dare take your eyes off him.
Williamson was better than we thought, and he got better as the season went on until that night in Durham when he exploded through a shoe and created an international story based mostly on truth.
His departure comes not after a national title but a shocking loss in the nation’s capital followed by allegations of impropriety from a lying lawyer and involving Williamson’s mother.
The story of Zion isn’t Shakespearean, nor is it Dickensian. The story of Zion is an unfinished tale of an imperfect dream that was incredible to experience.
Years from now, we’ll possibly know how all this turns out. Maybe not.
But years from now we’ll still remember what we saw. We saw the most remarkable young basketball player we’d ever seen, saw him in the prime of life, floating and flying over our heads like a meteor.
Zion Williamson defied description for almost everyone who saw him for the first time. And for those of us who saw it all, he still defied description.
It was a story we’ll tell for a long, long time. And we all got to be a part of it.