No, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson Did Not 'Fat Shame' Zion Williamson: TRAINA THOUGHTS

Author:
Publish date:

1. Twitter lost its mind long, long ago, but it's still amazing to see just how absurd the outrage gets every now and then.

Case in point: Wednesday night, ESPN had Dave Pasch, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy on the call for Zion Williamson's first NBA game in which the Pelicans lost at home to the Spurs.

At one point, Williamson's weight became a topic for Van Gundy and Jackson. Here's what they said, according to the New York Post.

"Analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy did not take long to go there. The duo said it was clear that Williamson looked heavier than the last time they had seen him and that he needed to trim down after the 44-game absence to start his NBA career. They continued that they could not believe he had gained eight pounds in a week after resuming working out and questioned whether 285 pounds was even accurate."

THIS IS NOT FAT-SHAMING! This is two analysts doing their job.

Whether a professional athlete is in shape and how that affects their performance on the court is a perfectly legit and reasonable topic for discussion. Van Gundy and Jackson were not evaluating Zion's looks for superficial reasons. They were evaluating how his weight affects the minutes he can play.

The people on Twitter who look for anything to be upset about were also offended by this graphic:

Again, this is not out-of-bounds in any way, shape or form. NBA players, who have to spend the game running up and down the court, are usually expected to be in good shape. If they are not, an analyst has every right to point that out, since it relates to how many minutes they can play and their output.

Obviously, all this nonsense is coming from Twitter, where you can't exactly expect reasonable thought, but for people to say Van Gundy and Jackson were calling Zion "fat" is just not true. And for people to compare Van Gundy and Jackson's bodies (announcers in their 50s) with Zion's (a 19-year-old professional athlete) is just the height of stupidity.

And of course, if Van Gundy and Jackson made those same exact comments about an athlete that Twitter disliked, there wouldn't be one word said about it. 

Van Gundy also had nothing but praise for Zion after the game, telling Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter, "I love the vision and the passing. The quickness of the second jump. The jump shot, I don't know. I haven't seen him enough to know exactly what he is as a player."

2. One more item on Van Gundy. This was a great exchange between him and Pasch. Pasch was raving about Zion and Van Gundy went off on how the media doesn't care about wins or losses, just content.

3. A brand new SI Media Podcast dropped Wednesday afternoon, and it features two interviews.

First up is the legendary Brent Musburger to discuss all things Super Bowl betting. How should we view the Niners? What is the action in Vegas looking like? Which prop bets are worth betting on? Why does Vegas have to limit the props they offer? Musburger also shares information on betting the national anthem over/under and the coin flip. 

Following Musburger, former NFL star and Super Bowl champion Chris Long joins the podcast to discuss Netflix's Aaron Hernandez docuseries. Was the doc effective? What's the biggest takeaway from the series? How unusual was Hernandez's case? How should we evaluate the role played by Urban Meyer and the Patriots?

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.

4. A reporter asked LeBron James about the possibility of the King playing with his son one day. LeBron's son is in ninth grade.

5. This is a very good read on how LSU's social media team dominated just as much as the football team this season. (Full disclosure: The writer of the article below is a former colleague.)

6. MLB players continue to hammer the Astros for their cheating ways. This is a particularly amusing comment from Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield.

7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: I'm cheating because this isn't a YouTube video, but since we're celebrating the Royal Rumble this Sunday, I had to post what might be the single greatest Rumble performance ever.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.