New Orleans Pelicans stud Zion Williamson has sparked a push-and-shove at the end of his side’s 128-117 win over the Phoenix Suns after a spectacular 360 windmill dunk with a second left in the match.
Williamson came into the NBA with a huge Instagram following from high school where he showed on his incredible talent.
But doing it with the game already young sparked a melee at the end of the game after he broke one of the NBA’s unwritten rules.
Even casual NBA fans know players don’t do showy dunks or shoot threes late if the game is already decided — unless they want to make a point.
And Zion wanted to make a point.
His teammate Larry Nance already put the Suns noses out of joint with a lay up to put the Pelicans up by nine with 18 seconds remaining.
The match was over but Williamson unleashed the monster dunk and divided the NBA.
“No, no, no, no,” former NBA player Antonio Daniels said on Bally Sports commentary.
Suns star Chris Paul made his feeling known to the Pelicans bench as both teams came together for some pushing and shoving.
Daniels added: “This came from the last two possessions though. With Larry Nance shooting a layup then the game was over, then Zion doing a 360 (dunk) when the game was over — this is how rivalries start!”
Incredibly, the teams play again on Monday but newsflash, they’re already in a rivalry.
The Pelicans sit atop the Western Conference at 17-8, ahead of the Grizzlies (17-9) and Suns (16-10).
But New Orleans hasn’t forgotten who knocked them out last season.
Williamson missed the playoffs last season with a broken foot.
“That was a little out of character for me,” Williamson said. “But you’ve got to understand, I mean, you can understand it or not. They sent my teammates home last year.
“I missed all last year. I got carried away a little bit. I admit that. But you know, I was in that locker room when my brothers were down because the Suns sent us home last year. That’s a tough moment to be a part of. So in that moment, I got carried away. I admit that. … If they were to do the same thing, I wouldn’t have no problem with it.”
While Williamson was happy to say why he pulled off the dunk, Paul played it off.
“It’s excitement at the end of the game. It happens all the time and it is what it is,” he said. “Ain’t nobody fighting. Ain’t nobody doing nothing.”
However, Suns guard Cameron Payne wasn’t backing down.
“The game was pretty much over and they just kept playing,” Payne said. “I felt like there was just no sportsmanship and we don’t really like that. We do the right thing.
“I felt like they should’ve done the right thing and they didn’t. We didn’t take it well and we don’t like to lose either. The game was over, no shot clock. They can hold the ball.”
Pelicans guard CJ McCollum said: “They got to get back on defence if they don’t want us to dunk the ball. Get back on defence.”