Charles Barkley admits to having not met former No. 1 pick Zion Williamson before, but the NBA legend gave a few words of advice for the Pelicans star who’s been overcome by various injuries in his young professional career.
During the 2022–23 season, Williamson didn’t play after Jan. 2 due to a hamstring injury. The forward has missed at least part of all four of his NBA seasons due to injuries.
Barkley compared Williamson’s young career to his own in certain ways, advising the Pelicans forward to “get in shape” in order to stay healthier throughout the rest of his career.
“Somebody gotta tell you, like, ‘Yo man, you gotta get in shape, cuz you’re gonna keep getting hurt if you’re out of shape,’” Barkley said on The Steam Room podcast. “I’m so blessed for Moses Malone, who told me to get my fat a-- in shape and made me lose 50 pounds. It changed the whole dynamic of my life. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. I want you to be a great basketball player I’ve been in your shoes, being very talented, being overweight.”
Barkley meant Williamson no harm by his comments, as he said, but losing those 50 pounds really helped the trajectory of Barkley’s 16-year career, in which he was named an All-Star 11 times and won the 1993 MVP award. He made clear that he would like to see Williamson respond in a similar way so that his career might have more longevity, too.
Williamson’s lengthy injury timeline started in his rookie season back in 2019 when the Pelicans star tore his meniscus. The following season, he suffered a fractured thumb. Then he missed the entire 2021–22 season because of a fracture in his right foot.