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Why It’s Idiotic To Tell Zion Williamson to “Shut It Down” For the Season


One of the frustrating things about covering college sports is that we spend way too much time arguing about stupid debates that never have a clear-cut solution. Should college athletes be paid a salary? Is it time to expand the College Football Playoff to eight teams? How the hell did Tom Crean get himself another good job so quickly?

Ok, that last one isn’t really a big-time debate, but the rest are, and the latest debate that we can’t seem to escape is the one about players sitting out games to protect their health and draft stock. We’ve seen it across college football these last few years, where plenty of guys have elected to skip meaningless bowl games to protect their health (Of course what no one talks about is the number of guys who do elect to play in meaningless bowl games. You know, like Kentucky’s Josh Allen, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and LSU’s Devin White. Just as an example).

And now apparently we’re seeing the debate extend to college basketball too.

That’s because on Wednesday, Scottie Pippen dropped an all-time awful take when he said that Zion Williamson should sit out the rest of the college basketball season to protect himself. Here’s what Pippen said:

“I think he’s locked up the biggest shoe deal, I think he’s definitely going to be the No. 1 pick, I think he’s done enough for college basketball that it’s more about him personally. I think for him as a young player, I would shut it down. I would stop playing because I feel he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career.”

https://twitter.com/Rachel__Nichols/status/1085590673510653952?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1085590673510653952&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbssports.com%2Fcollege-basketball%2Fnews%2Fscottie-pippen-thinks-dukes-zion-williamson-should-shut-it-down-and-prepare-for-draft%2F

This take is so dumb, for so many reasons that I’m going to get to here in a moment.

But before I do that, let me say one thing: I really hate this crap. I really hate when adults (especially those who don’t cover college sports) project themselves onto kids that they’ve never met, and act like they know what is best for them. The bottom-line is that Zion Williamson has two more months and about 20 games of college basketball where he can enjoy being a kid. Then he will be thrust into a grown man’s world in the NBA where there are contract demands to meet and sponsors to please. And because of it, I wish Pippen and all the other “experts” who think they know what’s best for Williamson would just leave him alone and let Zion enjoy these final few moments of being a kid.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to all the reasons why Pippen’s take is idiotic. To use the famous quote, “Let me count the ways.” And believe me, there are many.

For starters, the number one thing that drives me crazy about this “injury debate” is that there actually is no “debate” at all. The bottom line is that I’ve been watching college basketball for well over 20 years now, and unless I’m forgetting something, I literally can’t remember one instance of a player suffering a career-ending injury in college. There have been nicks and bumps and injuries that have cost players a game, or the remainder of a season, but never their entire career.

I’ll go ahead and avoid going into each gruesome injury one by one, but I feel pretty confident saying this: There isn’t a single injury that Zion Williamson could suffer on the basketball court that would end his career. Not one. This isn’t 1968. It’s 2019. Modern medicine is too good. So let’s stop with the “injury risk.” There is no real risk at all.

As a matter of fact, I’ll take it a step further: Not only is there not an injury that Zion can suffer that will end his NBA career, I also don’t think there is a single injury that could even hurt his draft stock. Even if, God forbid something bad happened to him on the court (and again, I’m not going to get into particulars) I see absolutely zero scenario where he would fall beyond the second pick in the draft. None.

Sound crazy? Let’s back it up with a little thing I like to call “facts.”

And those facts are this: Does anyone remember what happened during the 2013 college basketball season? When Nerlens Noel went down with a season-ending ACL injury. It was an injury which in 1968 would have cost Noel is his career, but thankfully was easily fixable 50 years later. It was such a non-issue as a matter of fact, that despite Noel missing the end of his college season and the risk that he wouldn’t be ready for his rookie year, he still went No. 6 overall in the NBA Draft. A major injury literally had no impact on his draft stock at all. Same thing a year later with Joel Embiid. He missed all of the Big 12 Tournament for Kansas and their two NCAA Tournament games that year too. By the time the draft rolled around it was clear that he would miss his rookie year as well. And he still went No. 3 overall. And some people still thought at that time it was too low.

So again, the narrative that Zion could suffer an injury that could cost him his career just isn’t accurate. Even if something bad were to happen (and again, we’re all praying it doesn’t), he has too much talent and too much marketability go any worse than No. 2 in the draft. And that’s only if some team is head over heels in love with R.J. Barrett.

Now, beyond just the fake “injury debate” that doesn’t exist, let’s also consider another thing that Pippen seemed to miss on. I’m going to assume that part of his “Hey, Zion should shut it down” hot take comes from seeing all those football players sit out bowl games.

Except here’s the thing: Let’s never forget that while we’ve had plenty of guys sit out meaningless bowl games, we still haven’t had a single player sit out of a College Football Playoff game. So you’re telling me that football players, with less market value and greater risk of injury, are willing to play for a championship, but Zion shouldn’t be? Get the hell out of here.

Now look, it’d be one thing if Zion had a growing list of nagging injuries or there were real concerns about his ability to stay healthy. I’d never blame him if he wanted to protect his future if that were the case.

But those things don’t exist. So asking him to sit out when his team has a shot to compete for a championship basically goes against everything that every athlete has ever been taught. I’m not trying to get on my whole “Put the team before yourself” soapbox, because I don’t buy that. I do think however it’s easy for Pippen to sit in a TV studio and say things that he doesn’t really believe. For example, Pippen has a son who just committed to Vanderbilt. Let’s say one day his son is good enough to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Assuming his son is healthy, do you really think there is any chance that Pippen would tell his kid to shut it down and get ready for the draft?

I’m sorry, but I just don’t think he would. Which makes the take even worse. It’s disingenuous and it was said to make a headline rather than because it’s what he really believed.

The good news is that by all accounts, Zion doesn’t seem like that kind of guy. He seems to genuinely enjoy playing at Duke and genuinely enjoy playing with his teammates. And I just can’t imagine any world where he decides to shut it down unless something unexpected happens.

Which makes me happy.

Not just because I enjoy watching him play. But because as I said at the top, Zion only has about 20 games and two months to enjoy being a kid, before he will be off to a grown man’s world.

And I hope he enjoys every last second of it.

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at [email protected] He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

78 responses to “Why It’s Idiotic To Tell Zion Williamson to “Shut It Down” For the Season”

  1. davis2319

    Scottie Pippen is softer than baby s*** and rode Jordan’s coattail for his whole career. His opinion is irrelevant.

    1. Irishcats118

      I agree his opinion on the matter is irrelevant. But Pippen was one hell of a player w or w out Jordan.

    2. bigbluebanana

      Yeah dude, Pippen was a baller. And to be fair Davis, ANYONE would’ve been the guy in Jordan’s shadow riding his coattail. Pippin is s legit hall of famer, with or without Jordan.

  2. kycatshoops

    Well, I hope he doesn’t enjoy EVERY last second of it. Specifically the part where we get some revenge. Otherwise, seems like a good kid.

    1. unbridled

      Exactly. I hope his season ends in a pool of tears.

  3. BluemanGreen

    This is the most idiotic article I have ever read. For the exact reasons you bash Pippen you should bash yourself. How the hell can you speak for this kid either? If hes locked up everything there is to lock up…a national championship…which is by no means a guarantee…isnt gonna make the kid a dollar. And saying that injuries dont mess up careers…ummm…GREG ODEN anyone? Our own Nerlens was never the same either…you gotta be kidding me with this absolutely bonkers, uneducated, non researched, opinionated garbage post!

    1. BBNDan7

      Greg Odens got injured after he was a pro, not in college. And he was drafted #1. Maybe you should read. Nerlens dropped approximately 4 spots where he might of gone had he not gotten hurt, and it didn’t make him less of a pro. Absolutely bonkers, uneducated, non researched, opinionated garbage comment.

    2. BigBlue4Three

      ^^^^^ +1 History, not just a college course.

    3. michaelb

      This is exactly right . I just typed a big paragraph before I read anyone’s – glad to see yours . They both put words in his mouth . They keep looking for who had career ending injuries which are zero . But there’s plenty of career altering injuries . Kinda silly righ out of the gate. It’s astonishing that people get paid for this stuff . Sometimes it’s who executed the right idea first

    4. unbridled

      Injuries most certainly stunt an athlete’s development. While acl and various sports medicine repairs are more common place with quicker recovery….they are far from perfect.

  4. BluemanGreen

    Also enough with the Duke love on this site! GTF outta here with that crap!~!

    1. BBNDan7

      Torres was literally brought on to cover the other parts of college basketball, not just UK.

    2. J. Did

      Big article on this in yahoo news. BBNDan7 is right.

    3. michaelb

      Torres doesn’t even like uk . He only talk about them when he has to . He didn’t even have Michigan in his pre season top25 . lol they’re number one

    4. CATandMONKEY

      michaelb :
      Torres LITERALLY wrote a book about UK and has been a fan for years.

    5. michaelb

      Let me guess u own it

  5. BigBlue4Three

    Maybe Zion should wrap himself in bubble wrap and never leave his dorm room. Never know when you may get hit in the head by falling blue ice.

    1. BluemanGreen

      little different than running and jumping up and down a basketball court as fast as possible against a bunch of other huge people some of whom might want to hurt you to get you out of games…but yeaaaa the falling ice argument is almost as cute as this article

  6. kenny

    I think Zion, Barrett, and Redish should shut it down. Jack white can still play though, I’m good with that.

    1. runningunnin.454

      Now there’s a really good idea.

    2. unbridled

      They should listen to kenny’s advice. They have far to much to lose….especially a rematch.

  7. RealCatsFan

    Well, I am here to say that it may be a bit selfish on my part, but if he were to shut it down, I WOULD BE COMPLETELY LAUGHING MY ASS OFF AT THE DOOK FANS AND COACHING STAFF!! 🙂

    1. mashburnfan1

      I would not laugh too hard. If he shuts it down others would surely follow down the line and with us having mostly one and done every year we would get it as well. I guess the good thing about missing the top players of the class like we now do is those guys are more likely to play all season since we now get the 10-20 picks instead of the 1-10 picks.

    2. henderblue

      Mashburnfan not gonna laugh at all. He’s number one Dook fan on this site. Would probably cry a little

    3. 4everUKblue

      Mash is our resident dUKe apologist. Made all kinds of excuses for them losing to an unranked team on their home court with the two best players in the country.

  8. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree

    Umm how about Zion’s own teammate? His season is done and his career could be over. He may never come back 100% if at all. Derrick Rose, Grant Hill, Yao Ming are all diffrent examples of how an injury can either derail or ruin a career. Now you may say but truth those were all NBA players. To which I would respond yes but if college players get injured before they explode on to the scene or get in the NBA and develop then you’ll never hear about them. They also have a tendency to not disclose injuries if the are big names till later in their career. And I know football’s diffrent because the threat of reinjury is greater but the obvious potential is the same and there has been a ton of day one draft picks that couldn’t come back from an injury either.

    1. StuckinLville

      Tre Jones’ season is not over. Injury isn’t as bad as they thought.

    2. jakew60

      Those injuries are unlikely and one injury usually doesn’t stop a player it’s the multiplying injuries and Yao Ming being 7’6 had stuff do with his injuries, Derrick rose suffered two knee replacements of Zion tears his ACl then he will be out anyway and likely still be drafted number 1 and most likely make a full recovery like most but there should be no belief that career-altering injuries are common

    3. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree

      He said doesn’t happen. I was just relaying examples of how it does. On Zion he has a strange build so you never know what effect an injury will have on his body. And again you did miss the point where we may never know the true statistics because of the lesser knowns you never here about.

  9. oruacat2

    Pippen’s take is indeed stupid, as is this whole “he should enjoy being a kid while he can” take from Torres. NCAA basketball at the Duke/Williamson level is big business. Torres should know, because KSR is a spin-off business that also makes money from it. Hell, just as a fan who reads KSR, watches games, buys team merchandise, etc, I contribute to ruining the sport, too.

    I don’t think the kid will quit on his teammates, but if he does I get it.

  10. UKCatAttack

    I have zero problems with Zion shutting it down. Now if he played for UK I would have a problem with it. I hate dUKe all of the time. I wish he played for us.

    1. RealCatsFan

      There is a certain duffelbag that may have prevented Zion from coming to UK.

  11. N-UR-i

    I think he should sit. Barrett too. lol

    1. mashburnfan1

      Yea maybe we only lose to dUKe by 3 or 4 instead of 34 if they shut it down.

    2. bigbluebanana

      You’re getting progressively worse with your takes mash, I often take up for you when others talk bad because for a while you at least also commented on the positives and weren’t finding any excuse to complain. Now, you’re starting to reach bigolblue levels of UK hate.

    3. catsarerunnin

      Bashburn is obviously a UL troll.

    4. 4everUKblue

      I think Mash is a dUKe butt sniffer.

  12. Wade

    It’s not

  13. Wade

    K is using him and he’s the #1 for sure! What does he get from duke that he hasn’t earned. If the chip is all he wants play for free to maybe get it or blow out his knee maybe.

  14. UKCatAttack

    BTW there is always a risk of injury when you play sports. I get where you are coming from Aaron but plenty of players have had their careers derailed by a major injury or lost considerable money. Read the following Forbes article about the $10 Million that Nerlens Noel lost likely due to his ACL injury at UK. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2013/06/28/nerlens-noels-nba-draft-slide-will-cost-him-10-million/amp/

    1. michaelb

      Spot on

  15. eastofmidnight

    Pippen’s poor personal investment choices cost him a fortune. That probably skews how he sees the landscape. The kid’s financial future is a BIG part of any decision but hardly the only consideration.

  16. makeitstop

    Enjoy every last second? Nope. Maybe all but the last 40 minutes… otherwise I agree.

  17. A_Blue_Wildcat

    Sure there wouldn’t be an injury that could literally end his basketball career, but there’s plenty that would severely hinder it and possibly ruin it. Right now Zion is completely reliant on his athletic ability, if he had average college level athleticism he would be a low d-1 player right now. An acl tear or a meniscus tear would drastically hurt his athletic ability, he would never look like the incredible player he is ever again. Tell me how injuries didn’t affect Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Harry Giles, Derrick Rose, and so many more. Sure some of them were still able to be good role players after, but never were superstars again. Next thing, did you forget about his knee injury in high school? How does that not count as a list of injury that causes concern when anyone with a decent understanding of knee injuries understands that these things linger around long term. But above all things else to ignore the fact that Zion plays an extremely destructive style of basketball flying around with his body weight and athleticism, as if that doesn’t increase his odds of getting injured, is just ridiculous. Zion will ultimately be the number 1 pick regardless of what happens, but to act like sitting out would be unimaginable is just stupid. Oh and the other thing where you mentioned that no one gets career ending injuries in college, that’s because most career ending injuries don’t reach their breaking point until after a certain period of time, the injury builds up over time as the ligaments slowly breakdown. Perfect example of this is Sam Bowie’s smaller injuries eventually catching up to him in the nba.

    1. michaelb

      Yea these guys think they know everything . I’m not for him skipping rest of school . But dam this is a dumb point to try to exploit . There’s many other real reasons not to . They wanna run with this one out in left field

  18. StuckinLville

    if Zion was worried about injury he would have just skip college altogether and just work on getting better and prepared for the draft. The kid chose Duke for a reason and there is no way that he will not play.

  19. BigolBlue

    M. Jones said we are close to being top 5. Ha!! And people are actually wondering if we could be a #1 seed. You guys are seriously hypnotized. Its funny

    1. henderblue

      What does that have to do with Torres’ article? Keep running your mouth. I got a feeling you’ll disappear as the season goes on, about like you did the other night.

    2. RealCatsFan

      “We”? C’mon man, EVERYBODY knows you are a University 6 fan. You aren’t fooling anyone.

    3. mikeg84

      HOLY TITS IVE SEEN IT ALL OLBLUE!!!! What in God’s green earth makes this a relevant comment to this article? I pray you aren’t a grown man I really do – well it’s pretty obvious youre a grown female with that inner teenage broad coming out of ya when you login here. If ya got the stones – DM me and we can put some real coin down on this years team success…

    4. catsarerunnin

      BigolBuffoon actually thinks he’s relevant.

    5. 4everUKblue

      Bigoldumbass is also Slater and combatmedic, that should explain he idiotic comments.

  20. IrishCat

    Leave it to Aaron Torres to think the opinions of those who do “cover college sports” are more legitimate than actual former college athletes.

    1. michaelb

      Yea . And his podcast intro is a JUSTIN BEIBER SONG.

  21. matt s

    Tell Michael Porter who was at Missouri last season that no injury will effect your draft status or career. He was one of the best high school players I had ever seen, but then broke his back at Missouri. Fell into the middle of the first round instead of being top 3. Still isn’t playing.

    1. Soylentbeans

      Still got grafted in the 1st round. Can still play basketball. So not
      Career ending.

  22. The last sith lord

    All these opinions from ppl with notning to loose. I dont care how good medicine is today there is always a chance at an injury. Dude has a chance to get the largest enforcements ever. An orbital bone or knee changes all of that. Pitino and DA made the same decision and to this day DA says he couldve played n wsnted to play but is glad he didnt risk it. And in the end one has to be a smart gambler… On one hand if your season ended today you get 200 million and youre risking that for what???

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      DA and Pitino shut it down AFTER he was done injured, not before. If Zion tore his ACL no one would ask him to risk coming back, but state he should quit to prevent injury is crazy. What about RJ he’s likely to be #1 or #2. Should he shut it down? (I kinda hope so but that’s different). What about the #3-10 picks, or hell the top 14 (lottery).
      And please for the love of God, screws are “loose” people LOSE games.

    2. catsarerunnin

      Is that why you “loose” your mind and jump off the bandwagon when the Cats “loose” or don’t win by 30 because they passed the ball around a zone?

  23. Aar

    I started reading this because I thought there might actually be support for the title within the article.

    Ask Ben Simmons about the benefits of “shutting it down”. Doubt he’d even acknowledge that he did.

  24. rlburd2

    ha this was pretty bad. Aaron Clearly is the professional in sports over Scottie Pip…..wait LOL.
    Wasted my time here. This article sucketh.

    1. michaelb

      lol yep

  25. UK Maine-iac

    This article reminds me of the speech from Billy Madison. We’re all dumber and God should have mercy on Aaron’s soul. That was cringe bad. Sorry.

  26. bigbluebanana

    You make solid arguments Aaron, but the whole “no injury can end a career because of modern medicine” thing reaches Nick Roush levels of dumb takes. Noel alone is proof of this, his injury seriously ruined his career and ability. He is not now, nor will he ever be, the player he could’ve been. Porter from Missouri May be just the most recent example.

  27. michaelb

    It’s funny how people can make a living off putting words in other people’s mouths . My wife does it masterfully and gets paid zero dollars (not fair )
    Ksr
    Did this also for 20 minutes today . Trying to come up with Career ending injuries .. I mean duh . Technically there are none . There are plenty of injuries that vastly changes a players draft position , contract money and the start of their careers which is pivotal almost always . (Nerlens Noel comes to mind ) Mj and Torres are making pippen say something he really didn’t say and then calling him dumb for it . This is what makes me frustrated sometimes . These people take the ball and run off in left field sometimes . The causal listener will just follow and follow . Try to be more comprehensive and more responsible . Jeez

  28. michaelb

    all coming from a guy who has a JUSTIN BEIBER SONG INTRO in his podcast lol

  29. michaelb

    Torres and Jones are making Pippen say something he didn’t say…. and are then they’re calling him stupid for saying it . Lololololol . Bottom line .

  30. Truman Claytor

    This mindset is why Scotty Pippen is broke…what a dumbass

  31. IndianaSucks

    A torn Achilles wouldn’t be career ending but sure wouldn’t help his draft stock. Just ask boogie.

  32. IndianaSucks

    A career ending college injury in ANY sport is rare. I don’t think it’s idiotic for him to consider being set for life with his lottery contract. A torn Achilles in college would detract from that. Ask boogie.

    I like that Torres talks about people that don’t usually cover college sports telling kids what to do, well, that’s most sports talking heads on ESPN and every other sports reporting outlet.

  33. Luether

    Good take, Aaron…

  34. Bud

    So you know more than scottie pippen about playing college ball and transferring that into an nba career? Ok, bud. This article is embarrassing.

  35. CahillsCrossingNT

    An NCAA title, which Williamson has a chance to win, only adds to your legacy. This suggestion by Pippen is stupid, and Williamson is too competitive to pass up this up.

  36. KYjellyRoll

    Zion has been paid far too much to him and his family to shut it down. He’s under contract to play for dUKe for at least one year

    1. Matt10

      Lol!

  37. KYjellyRoll

    I don’t see Zion being a big star in the nba. I wish him the best but I don’t think he will be looking so great against nba level talent

    1. IndianaSucks

      I agree. I’m not sure his game translates to the NBA. I think he’ll be a solid role player that will average 15 and 15 because of his athleticism and size. If he develops more of a mid range and outside game, however, he could be dangerous.

  38. Matt10

    He’s on full scholarship for one reason, to play ball. No way he’d ever shut it down. He’d get kicked out of school, be out of the national spotlight and would probably drop in the draft and lose endorsement money. “One n done Duke star” has a lot more commercial appeal than “shut it down, kicked out selfish baby.”
    Not gonna happen.