Laettner On Zion: "I Wanted Him To Be More Selfish"

Zion Williamson's dominance is unquestioned – which is why Christian Laettner wanted him to be more aggressive down the stretch against Michigan State

Taz and the Moose
April 02, 2019 - 11:23 am
Zion Williamson Duke Michigan State Elite Eight

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Based on the stat sheet, Zion Williamson had a great final game at Duke. He finished with a game-high 24 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and a game-high three blocks against Michigan State. But he took just one shot in the final six minutes, and Duke lost 68-67.

Is it surprising that Williamson deferred so much down the stretch? Especially with a trip to the Final Four on the line?

“Well, I would have to watch the video again, but there was plenty of times where he got the ball and he kind of gave it up,” Duke legend Christian Laettner said on Taz & The Moose. “I know there was at least two times where he had the ball in his hands and he deferred or passed it.”

Williamson averaged 26.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the tournament. He shot 45-of-73 (.616) from the floor, including 7-of-17 (.412) from three.

“The last few games, every time he passed it, I was like, ‘What are you doing?’” Laettner said, prompting laughter from Taz & The Moose. “The last few games when they didn’t make sure that he touched the ball every possession, I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s just so good.”

Duke, of course, has had dominant players like this in the past – and Mike Krzyzewski made it a point to get them the ball.

“When I was a freshman at Duke, there was a point in the season where Coach K said to the whole team, ‘No one shoots until Danny Ferry touches the ball,’” Laettner recalled. “Then when I was a senior, Coach K might have said it a few times: ‘No one shoots until Laettner touches the ball once. It doesn’t mean that Laettner has to shoot it. It just means we want the ball in his hands for a few seconds every possession to see if he can make something happen.’

“So, yes, I was surprised a few times when, over the last few games, Zion’s got everything rolling so good and he’s so dominant, and there was a few times where he didn’t get the ball – and there was a few times where he did get the ball and he gave it up,” Laettner continued. “It might be fatigue. It might be him being too much of a team player.”

Laettner, though, admitted that even he may have been too passive at Duke – and he was one of the best, most confident players in the history of the game.

“When I was at Duke, they always had to tell me, ‘Shoot it more,’” he said. “Coach K would bring me into his office and yell at me a little bit and say, ‘Hey, shoot it more.’ But it’s the game, and there’s four other guys out there. Zion is a nice kid, and you can tell that he loves playing with his brothers out there, so he gave the ball up a few times. But there are times when I wanted him to be more selfish.”

Click below to listen to Laettner's interview in its entirety.