Zion Williamson says he’s focused on diet, conditioning, more to stay on court

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Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum have played 10 games together out of 116 total games over a season and a half (counting playoffs).

That’s why the New Orleans Pelicans are running it back this season — this team might be outstanding if they can just get their three stars on the court at once. The poster child for missing games is Zion Williamson, who has played in 114 NBA games through his first four NBA seasons (37% of this team’s games). What he showed in those 114 games earned him a $197.2 million max rookie extension that kicks in this season, but Zion’s name has come up in trade rumors as there has been frustration within the organization about his availability (same with Brandon Ingram). Zion’s off-the-court drama this summer only added to the mess.

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Zion, making a surprise appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ “Gil’s Arena” podcast this week, talked about having to take control of things in his life (hat tip Andrew Lopez at ESPN ).

“Like [former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski] taught me, I have to own up to my responsibilities,” Williamson said. “There are a lot of things I could have done better. I didn’t. I’m in the process of fixing those wrongs.”

That starts with improving his diet, which Zion admitted has not been easy.

“It’s hard, man,” Williamson said. “I’m 20, 22, have all the money in the world — well, it feels like all the money in the world. It’s hard.”

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Williams said he is putting people with “wisdom” — he tried to avoid calling them old — around him to help with better decisions. In terms of workouts, Williamson said he has learned from the training regimen of another wise old head of the NBA — LeBron James, who played more games than Zion did last season at age 38 and led his team to the Western Conference Finals — with a focus on flexibility to help stay healthy.

Zion’s core message to fans is that he wants to be out there on the court.

“What I want people to know about me is I just want to hoop. I want to be out there. Nobody wants to just sit on the sideline. I think that’s what I want people to understand. I don’t want to be on the sideline. Y’all think I want to sit over there hurt? I don’t.”

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If he’s on the court like he says he wants this season — and Ingram and McCollum join him — it will be a very interesting season in New Orleans. But it will have to be actions, not words, for Zion at this point. He’s been saying the right things for years.

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