"And Lopez covers the New Orleans Pelicans for ESPN Andrew. From the moment. That the Pelicans won the lottery landing the first overall Pick Zion Williamson was almost universally expected to walk in and be the face of the franchise really the face of basketball in the city of New Orleans. What did you think as you're watching the draft? Yes so I'll go back to the lottery with just two weeks. Prior to this the the newspaper I was working for got bought out. I was really in a state of flux personally. And then I remember when that Memphis logo came out of the number to envelop. The second pick will be made by the Memphis Grizzlies number one mic and the two thousand nineteen and it goes to the New Orleans. Pelicans and I realized Oh wait to turn to a buddy of mine who was sitting next to grabbed his arm and I was like Bro. I got a job like somebody. Who's going to hire me for this guy so it all kind of worked out? Because that night I I kind of started started the ball rolling with ESPN and ESPN hired me in August two covers ion and and do all this. It really change a lot in the city. I mean in the city itself. What the day after the they like three thousand or thirty five hundred season ticket packages? It was it was insane. You saw people walking around. It was June and July in New Orleans and you saw people walking around in Pelicans gear. That's saints time that we don't we don't do that down here. Really has changed a lot for Zion. Get down here and it's still hype is still the very real. Even though he hasn't actually played a regular season game yet right you were brought into covers ion you have not been covering Zion. Well not covering him on the court. He's practicing. He's been injured all year. What's his outlook like? Today is actually a very big day for Zaylon because the PELICANS still want to get him a a lot of five on five work. That's a big step in his recovery right now. The problem with that has been. They haven't had a lot of practice time to get there once. He was cleared the five on five work last week. He did it but then the pels had a stretch of five games in eight days where they didn't really get much practice time. You don't get a lot of practice time on the road so today's actually a big day where he's going to get a chance to get back out there and get some five on five work done. We don't know if it's going to be one more if it's going to be two. Who More practices? But we're we're getting close to the end game now. We don't have a date circled but we're getting close to win you. Know he'll finally make his his regular season debut debut. How many times have you said endgame since this is all begun a lot? That's been a fun word for me everywhere. You go in the city right now. Hello everybody wants to ask you. When's ion comeback wins? I on coming back coming back. Alvin Gentry told a story a couple of weeks ago. He's in Walmart and a lady on a scooter walked up to him. It's like hey I see coach. Once I on coming back everybody wants to know when the saints loss on that Sunday in the playoffs I have four or five. I people text me right after. Hey come back tomorrow right like this is going to get better for us as fans and I'm like sorry guys people are just waiting for this debut is As much as they can so enter this all goes back to the preseason. Zion makes his debut against the Atlanta Hawks. He delivers I not just one. But three earth-shattering stays again Joe. That's not normal. The normal shooting over the course of his first four games he averages more than twenty three points shooting seventy one point four percent from the floor floor and then the unthinkable happens breaking news just four days before Zion's NBA career was scheduled to start sign. We'll miss a period of weeks because because of a right knee injury usually when you have a meniscus injury any sort of neander you can kind of point to. Hey it happened at this moment right here. You can't do that with Zion. He doesn't know when he hurt the knee. The pelicans don't know when he heard the knee and that's not just a like a PR spin on it. Nobody nobody knows when he heard this thing. It's very possible. He played at least one or two games with a torn meniscus. I think he had what twenty two. And Ten in that last game against the Spurs and it was only after that game where he kind of went to the training staff and was like. Hey guys Monique on a hertz. Maybe we can get this checked out and they thought it was just a regular routine gene thing they go get the MRI done and they're like. Oh we have an issue here. There was no swelling. He didn't really feel that much pain. It was more like something doesn't feel right in the knee and that's how it kind of started. He was clean when they got him in. preseason they think it happened in preseason. It's also not anything anything that goes back to his time at Duke. There's no lingering things there or or in some and they think it happened in the preseason. They just don't know exactly when so so the news comes out. Everybody's a little bit confused. What happens next before they go to that? Last preseason game in New York the the knicks the PELICANS announce hey he's outright knee soreness and it takes a couple of days before we figure out what is exactly going on and in part of the reason for that was they wanted to get different opinions from different doctors. It took a weekend and then they announce. Hey Hey he's having surgery. He had the surgery this morning. Everything is good. We're looking at a six to eight week"