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Zion Williamson’s knee injury history, explained

As Williamson returns for the Pelicans, here’s a look back at the injuries that have plagued his career since high school.

Zion Williamson sits on the bench during Pelicans practice.
We are praying injuries aren’t a recurring theme for Williamson.

Zion Williamson had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in October and missed the first three months of the NBA regular season. Now, Williamson is getting back on the court, making his debut in a home game against the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 22.

Williamson was initially listed out with right knee soreness. It is believed that the injury occurred during the Pelicans’ preseason game against the Spurs on Oct. 13. Williamson was held out of the New Orleans Pelicans preseason finale with the injury after incredible production and some breathtaking moments through four exhibition games to open his pro career.

It already feels like there is little doubt that Williamson will be a star in the NBA if he stays healthy. Unfortunately, that’s been a problem for Williamson over the last few years. Everyone remembers Zion’s foot busting through his shoe at Duke, but his injury issues date all the way back to high school.

The Pelicans listed Williamson at 6’6 and 284 pounds. As we’ve known since his college days, that makes him the second heaviest player in the league behind Mavericks 7’3 center Boban Marjanovic. The same thing that makes Williamson so mesmerizing to watch — his combination of speed and power at an unprecedented weight — also makes us worry about his health.

We’ll be monitoring Williamson’s health all season long. This is everything you need to know about his injury history dating back to high school.

Williamson’s torn right meniscus sidelines him at the start of his NBA career

Williamson believes he hurt himself in an Oct. 13 preseason game against the Spurs in which he finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Ahead of the team’s preseason finale against the Knicks, the Pelicans sent as a press release saying he would be sidelined with right knee soreness.

The injury was not considered severe, according to Wojnarowski. The reporter also noted the Pelicans are “clearly treating injury with an abundance of caution but there’s no shortage of confidence on full recovery.”

More detailed information was released a day before the Pelicans open the regular season, after Williamson had successful surgery. He ended up being out for three months.

Williamson was hurt in Summer League, too

After nine minutes and at least one remarkable highlight during his debut, Williamson was ruled out for the remainder of Las Vegas Summer League after suffering a bruised left knee:

The Pelicans noted they were operating with an ‘abundance of caution’ in a team press release. “Zion will move forward from this incident without issue,” said team president David Griffin.

Williamson’s knee injury at Duke was the most memorable moment of the college season

Only 30 seconds into the first Duke vs. North Carolina game of the season, Williamson fell down awkwardly as his foot busted through his shoe during a quick move to the basket.

The sports world felt like it froze in that moment. The official diagnosis on Williamson’s injury was a Grade 1 right knee sprain. He would miss three weeks, but returned for Duke’s ACC tournament run. He was immediately a superstar upon his return.

Williamson also had a knee injury in high school

Williamson suffered a deep knee bruise in April 2017 that caused him to miss a few months of “AAU” ball. Here’s what Williamson said about the injury at the time:

“It was during a warmup prior to the first week of the AAU season. We were in Arkansas and it was hot and the floor was slippery and he fell one time on it and I saw that knee hit that floor and the next morning he told me that knee was swollen,” said Williamson’s step-father, Lee Anderson. “We had the doctors look at it and they said it was a deep contusion so we just got him off of it. He went to Dallas and played in the very first game and he wasn’t 100 percent and I could tell, so we just shut him down.”

Williamson also suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss time during his senior year. He also missed the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic as a prep player with a hand injury.

Injuries are the only thing that can stop Zion

Williamson was bullying NBA players like college kids in the preseason. The Pelicans already know how to use him to devastating effect.

Zion is a superstar in the making, he just has to stay healthy. Now that he’s back, let’s enjoy his greatness. And please let these early career injuries be a blip on the radar, not a sign of things to come.