Zion Williamson is out indefinitely, and Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin is pissed off.
His frustration was clear in his tone Friday in a press conference following the announcement Williamson suffered a fractured ring finger on his left hand. The Pelicans second-year star is likely out for the remainder of the season, severely damaging the Pelicans last-minute push to make the postseason.
Griffin said he and the Pelicans tried to warn the league and the people overseeing the officials of the “open season there has been on Zion” and that this would lead to an injury. Here’s the full quote from Griffin, via friend of the site Ben Golliver of the Washington Post.
Pelicans' David Griffin blames officiating for Zion Williamson's broken finger: "He’s injured now because of the open season there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint… There’s more violence encouraged in the paint against Zion Williamson than any player I’ve seen since Shaq" pic.twitter.com/7rYQ7A1mfR
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 7, 2021
Griffin added that Williamson had played through a right thumb that most players would have had surgery on to fix.
There are two parts to this.
While Griffin claims the injury is an accumulation of multiple hits Zion took in the paint, the injury appears to have happened on this single play against the Warriors on Tuesday night:
Play Zion Williamson fractured his left ring finger Tuesday vs Warriors. pic.twitter.com/eJOMNwfk00
— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) May 7, 2021
There is nothing out of line with the officiating on that play. This was just a fluke injury and it wasn’t a referee’s fault, and it wasn’t fair for a frustrated Griffin to drag referees into this injury discussion.
However, Griffin’s larger point about Zion not getting his share of fouls is legitimate. Zion, fitting the mold of players such as Shaq and LeBron James, is so physically strong that he sometimes doesn’t get the calls he deserves because he is strong enough to just power through and doesn’t look like a foul.
Zion averaged 8.7 free throw attempts a game, fourth-most in the league — he gets calls. However, considering how much he attacks the rim — 69.6% of his shot attempts come in the restricted area — and how strong he is, that number is probably still low.
That doesn’t mean it caused this injury.