The New Orleans Pelicans are going to be without the services of Zion Williamson for an indefinite period of time. The team announced on Friday afternoon that a fractured ring finger on his dominant left hand will keep him on the sidelines as the Pelicans try to make up the 1.5-game gap between themselves and the San Antonio Spurs, which have the 10-seed and the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.
In the aftermath of the announcement, Pelicans executive David Griffin sat down with the media and proceeded to lay into the NBA’s officiating. An obviously frustrated Griffin called out the way that referees call games involving Williamson, saying that his young star has done everything the way that he’s supposed to in order to bring attention to fouls he draws, but ultimately, “if you flop, you tend to get more calls.”
David Griffin talking about the problem with the NBA’s officiating
“I think we have a problem as a league right now.” pic.twitter.com/NoIzDVrUIW
— Louis Prejean (@LouisPrejean) May 7, 2021
Griffin went on to say that there is “violence encouraged” against Williamson to a level that no player has received since the early days of Shaquille O’Neal, and claims that there are players who have straight up said to Williamson that they will continue to lay into him because they know officials will not call everything a foul.
Pelicans’ David Griffin blames officiating for Zion Williamson’s broken finger: “He’s injured now because of the open season there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint… There’s more violence encouraged in the paint against Zion Williamson than any player I’ve seen since Shaq” pic.twitter.com/7rYQ7A1mfR
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 7, 2021
It is not hard at all to see where this frustration comes from, both because of the team’s battle for a playoff spot and because Williamson is the franchise’s young star who, Griffin believes, needs protecting. We’ll bet that Griffin is going to hear from the league office for his comments, and we’ll also bet that when he pays whatever fine comes his way, he’ll make it a point to send in some of the footage of some fouls that were not called.