Thanks to Zion, I Know I Can Fly
Yes, the rookie phenom is able to hurdle any obstacle others put in his way
I grew up in Brooklyn in the ’90s when the biggest star was a fat, Black Jamaican. Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace got all the girls by flaunting his ugly cool. He was smooth and wore thousand-dollar sweaters, so that made his claim more convincing. It must be, because his debut album, Ready to Die, said so. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to grow up then as I do now.
It took me almost my entire lifetime to accept myself and my body. I’m still not there. But when I watch basketball, I forget about body image and all the negative messages about fat Blackness. Last week I watched Zion Williamson’s debut in the name of celebrating virtuosic ability and physique. He is 6 foot, 7 inches of raw, undefinable power. Zion blasts up off the floor on rocket heels and assaults the hoop with the ball. He also nimbly maneuvers around men much bigger and much smaller, toe-tapping his way through hardwood and embarrassing frail opponents.
Zion nimbly maneuvers around men much bigger and much smaller, toe-tapping his way through hardwood and embarrassing frail opponents.
Because I had tuned in for ballet on the hardwood, and I was borderline spastic about witnessing magic in the Bayou, I’d braced myself for the worst. The conversations about Zion are almost as grossly unimaginative as the conversations about the one-of-a-kind bodies that arrived before he did: They inflict a specific kind of sports-talk violence on the physicality and minds of fat Black boys.
Turn on any NBA post-game show, and you’ll hear things like:
“He’s gotta get into better shape.”
“The rumor is that he’s 285! That’s the third-heaviest weight in the NBA!”
“Zion… the thing with Zion is I worry about the extra weight that he carries. This is the NBA, where grown men are gonna be knocking around with him for 48 minutes.”
Forget that Zion has been carrying every ounce of his body for all of his 19 years. Or that he moves like an atom splitting itself to destroy nations. Forget that his…