New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson acknowledged that he has got to earn the respect from referees after a critical non-call against the Denver Nuggets. On Wednesday night, Williamson had a chance to dunk the ball and tie the game against the Nuggets to 116-116 but he went up and got blocked by Nikola Jokic.
The replay showed that Jokic made contact with Williamson's hand. "I gotta earn my respect," said Williamson, who had 21 points and shot 8-of-17 from the field, only the seventh time this season he has been below .500.
"I'm only in Year 2. Gotta get a couple more years under my belt and hopefully things change with that." Meanwhile, Jokic said: "I was there to stop the drive, he shovel-passed to Zion, he went to dunk and I was going hard to just not let him score.
I was aiming for the ball and I was going as hard as I can. Even if it's a foul, don't give him an and-1."
Brandon Ingram was sure Williamson was fouled
"Obviously, all of us thought it was a foul, but the referee saw something different," Ingram said.
"At the end of the day, we have to go with what the referee says. I'm sure that's only fuel for him to go harder in the next game and make sure that he's making it known he's getting fouled under the basket and finish strong.
"I'll make that play 100 percent, every time. He might've got fouled, it might've been a blocked shot. It just ended the way it ended." Williamson is the second in the league in free throws attempted. "He gets to the free throw line a lot, and I've had referees say to me, 'How many free throws has he shot?' and it's a stupid question," Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy said.
"It doesn't matter. Call it every single time he gets fouled. That's all your job is. "It's not a matter of, 'Oh, he shot eight free throws,' or, 'Oh, he shot 10 free throws.' Some nights he should shoot 20.
So call it. That's all. Just call it. What more does he have to do to get those calls? I don't know. That's a great question. "I do think strength gets punished in this league a lot more than quickness. If you're able to go through contact a little bit, it's called differently.
If you fall down every time you're hit or you flop, you get calls. That's just the way it is. It's not just Zion, that's just the way it is."