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Ex-Pelicans guard J.J. Redick rips Zion Williamson for being 'detached teammate'

Ex-Pelicans guard J.J. Redick rips Zion Williamson for being 'detached teammate'
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (C), shown April 16, 2021, hasn't played this season because of a significant foot injury. File Photo by Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Former New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick criticized his former teammate and star forward Zion Williamson for his "lack of investment" in the franchise.

"There's a responsibility that you have as an athlete when you play a team sport to be fully invested," Redick said Tuesday on ESPN's First Take. "You're fully invested in your body, you're fully invested in your work and you're fully invested in your teammates. That is your responsibility, and we have not seen that from Zion."

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Redick and Williamson were teammates with the Pelicans for parts of the last two seasons before Redick retired from the league and joined ESPN as an NBA analyst prior to this season.

The 37-year-old Redick said he voiced his concerns with Williamson while he was in New Orleans.

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"This is something I addressed with Zion in front of the team," Redick said. "This is going back to his rookie year."

Williamson's possible shortcomings as a teammate came into public view during this past weekend's All-Star festivities when new Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum said he hadn't communicated with Williamson since he was traded to New Orleans from the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline.

"I haven't had conversations with him directly," McCollum told the NBA on TNT crew on Saturday. "I've spoken with some people close to him and look forward to sitting down with him sooner than later. I know about as much as you do right now, but I'm going to get to the bottom of it."

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McCollum told ESPN on Tuesday that he has since talked to Williamson. However, Redick believes Williamson's initial silence toward McCollum is part of a "pattern of behavior."

"This just shows a complete lack of investment in your team, in the organization, in the city," Redick said. "I get that he's hurt and away from the team, but you just traded for one of the 50 best players in the league -- a guy that's supposed to be paired with you. Reach out and say, 'Hello.'

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"This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we are seeing again and again. I was his teammate; I can describe him as a detached teammate. That is an accurate statement."

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Williamson hasn't played this season because of a fracture in his right foot that required surgery over the summer. After there was initial optimism that Williamson would be back for the start of the 2021-22 campaign, his return has been delayed multiple times.

Currently, Williamson is rehabbing his foot away from the team. According to reports, he is working out in Portland, Ore., with permission from the Pelicans.

When healthy, Williamson has been one of the league's top players. He averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists across 61 games last season.

"Yes, he's been amazing when he's been on the court, 100%. He's amazing to watch," Redick said. "There's no one that can do what he does on a basketball court. ... But as a teammate, there is a pattern of behavior, as a fully invested individual in New Orleans, there's a pattern of behavior. This is worrisome."

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