Sports

Zion Williamson on MSG: '41 at the Garden' Would 'Be Incredible'

Duke forward Zion Williamson made his Madison Square Garden debut on Thursday night which, as expected, caught the attention of many New York Knicks fans hoping to land the star freshman in the 2019 NBA Draft.

But his postgame comments are likely to get Knicks fans even more excited than his big performance. After the game, Williamson addressed the potential of playing home games at Madison Square Garden next season.

"Forty-one games at the Garden, I mean, it would probably be incredible," he said after Duke's 69-58 win over Texas Tech.

Williamson is a projected top-five pick and New York currently has one of the worst records in the NBA. The freshman fouled out wtih four minutes remaining in Thursday's game after being called for his third charge, but still recorded 17 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes with several NBA executives in attendance, including Knicks president Steve Mills, according to ABC 7 in New York.

Forward Kevin Knox and guard Emmanuel Mudiay were also in attendance, as well as Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Trae Young and Philadelphia Sixers All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, according to ABC 7.

"This is the Garden," Williamson said. "A lot of greats have come through here. My favorite great to come through here was probably Bernard King because my stepdad talked about him a lot how he just put the ball in the basket. ... I had to go watch his highlights. He could really score the basketball. He was incredible how he did it.

"Playing 41 games here wouldn't be so bad."

Williamson also reportedly refused to sit in forward Kristaps Porzingis' locker prior to Thursday's game out of respect for the injured All-Star, according to Knicks beat writer Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News.

Fellow Duke freshman RJ Barrett is also a potential option for the Knicks should they land a top-5 pick next June.

"It was amazing," Barrett said of the experience. "Electric crowd."

Barrett struggled with his shooting efficiency, going 7-of-22 from the field and 0-for-7 from 3-point range, but still finishing with 16 points and scoring eight consecutive points when Texas Tech was extending its lead in midway through the second half.

"It's cool," Barrett said. "You grow up watching these teams play on TV, now you get to be in the locker room. ... It's a great experience."

Fellow freshman Cam Reddish scored eight points and committed six turnovers in 20 minutes, but made a crucial 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining and secured the game by hitting two free throws in the game's final minute.

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