What good is a series without a trilogy? For the third time, The Sports Fan Journal heads on the NBA Journey. For the first two years, we had a level of surety as to where our destination would be. The first year, we were correct. The second, we were correct in location, but not in victor, as the Toronto Raptors won the title last year. Now, the NBA springs anew and for the first time in a while, we're not totally sure where our destination lies. This allows for a current kind of exploration. Let's continue with our next installment after a week of games.
Song of The Week: Final Fantasy VII OST - "Anxious Heart"
Anticipation. Hype. Whatever you call it, the buildup for something or someone to debut is a mainstay in consumerism. From shoe releases to movie trailers, previews of potentially amazing items keep said items at the forefront of people's minds.
Video games are no different. Most are in development for months—if not years—so attention must be continually drawn to them up to and past initial release. Of course, those hyped games have varying degrees of meeting expectations. But the preemptive buildup is necessary and exciting—that is, until that game is delayed.
Famed game development company Square Enix announced a remake to Final Fantasy VII in 2016. The four-disc PSOne classic role-playing game was slated to receive an upgrade to meet the technological advances of the current generation of gaming consoles. This sparked major anticipation for its release. Long-standing fans and newcomers alike were ready to receive an undeniable gem of a game this year. Nearly four years of waiting only increased anticipation, especially as more and more visuals were being released to the public.
Recently, it was announced that the game will be delayed. Naturally, fans' reactions to this were full of displeasure. Anticipation turned to angst and worry, as small thoughts of maybe never getting the remake swirled about.
But sometimes, caution is necessary. It is better to make sure something is as close to being optimal as possible. No, the future cannot be yourself controlled. But preparations before release can be controlled. Whether it's a clothing rollout, a video game, it the NBA player we highlight below, cautionary measures may need to override satiating anticipation. It is worse to rush to put out a product that isn't ready than it is to be extra careful and delay its debut.
The arrival of Zion Williamson is the most anticipated debut since LeBron James. Not to slight the debuts of Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and other No.1 Draft selections, but Zion is in another pantheon.
As fans of the game, we were elated the day he was drafted to the New Orleans Pelicans. His brief but productive time is Summer League and amplified that excitement. Mother Nature interrupted Zion's dominant play with an earthquake, as well as a knee injury that caused him to miss the first three months of the regular season. While it's a few weeks after the expected eight-week recovery stage , the excitement still remains—but now some doubt has surfaced about his health. Many have whispered about Zion's injury being attributed to his weight. In a sense that's true. Williamson is built like a defensive end—as he stands at 6'6 and weighs a hulking 285lbs. That's a lot of pounds to continuously have jumping and landing and putting pressure on tendons and joints in the knees. We've never seen anything like Zion. While many compare him to LeBron, his size links him to guys like Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson. Although those are solid comparisons, there is still much that is unknown. If Zion can eurostep Drago's and Cafe Du Monde in Louisiana just as he does defenders, weight management should go smoothly.
Let's talk about his hype— which is something he cannot control. He's yet to score an NBA point and he is already a household name. Much like King James before him, he has a massive shoe deal, commercials, and one of the most recognizable figures in sports. Few can go by the "one-name" moniker, and Zion is one that can.
He is only 19 years old, months removed from playing against guys who reside in college dorms. Tonight won't be a huge test for him, but it will be a beginning. Debuts can have an everlasting impact on one's career. Not that it will show the trajectory of what his career would look like, but it could place unfounded expectations that are both ridiculously high or ridiculously low, depending on how the game plays out.
Before the start of the NBA season, so-called experts were expecting Zion to be great. The lofty expectations are similar to those that enveloped LeBron, despite the NBA being much different than it was in 2003. Many expected and wanted LeBron to fail coming out of high school. All he did was score 25 points in his first game to go along with winning the Rookie of the Year award. Not to say that Zion will have that type of debut or rookie season, nor believing that there is a large contingency of doubters, but the bar is set high for him because of the built up hype surrounding him since high school.
We’ve waited for this day to come. Since the tender age of 16 years old Zion has been the talk of the basketball world. After millions of views on YouTube and selling out high school and collegiate arenas across the country, he exhibited a level of stardom and flair that is mesmerizing.
It's unfair to place supremely high or low expectations on Zion before he's played in one meaningful NBA game, but that comes with the territory. We don't know how his career will go, but at least it'll have a chance to begin.