Analyst: New Orleans Has Never Been This Excited For Basketball

Zion Williamson has "made basketball matter in a place where football is king"

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 24, 2019 - 9:56 am

USA Today Images


WDSU TV NOLA sports anchor Fletcher Mackel is from New Orleans, he’s covered New Orleans sports for 17 years, and he’s never seen anything quite like the buzz for Zion Williamson.

“This is the most excited I’ve ever seen people about basketball in the Big Easy,” Mackel said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The only parallel that I can draw similar to this one is when Reggie Bush got drafted by the Saints in 2006. The excitement for Reggie Bush – Sean Payton said it, it was like the Beatles or Michael Jackson or Elvis coming to town. It was that big.”

So is Zion.

“Zion is that big,” Mackel said. “They had thousands of people downtown at a block party that were going nuts for drafting an 18-year-old. He has really made basketball matter in a place where football is king.”

As for reports that Williamson was unhappy to go New Orleans? False, Mackel says.

“Everything we have seen and heard from him has been that that was all a bunch of B.S.,” Mackel said. “It was a media creation by people who were upset they didn’t get him, thinking, ‘Well, he can’t possibly want to go someplace other than New York or L.A. There can’t be any place other than the Lakers or the Knicks.’ Those reports were dismissed right away.”

In fact, Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, became emotional while thanking New Orleans for all it has done to welcome Zion, adding that he is excited to play for the Pelicans.

“It came across being very sincere,” Mackel said. “That’s one of the genuine things about him: people believe that he does want to be here. He’s not being forced to be here. He’s not talking out of both sides of his mouth. He really is going to embrace being in this city and a part of this franchise.”

Click below to listen to Mackel’s interview in its entirety.