D'Angelo Russell on Zion Williamson: He's Playing Football, We're Playing Basketball

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Zion Williamson showed what he's capable of by scoring a career-high 43 points, including the Pelicans' final 13, as New Orleans downed the Minnesota Timberwolves last night. He completely owned the final minute as he tied the game up by discarding Rudy Gobert, then converted a pick-six with a dunk. Both plays were extremely awesome and, in the interest of fairness, featured a decent amount of aggressive contact for the officials to ignore.

Wolves guard D'Angelo Russell was a bit nonplussed by the whole experience and lodged some complaints during his postgame availability.

"He ran through my guy, took the ball," Russell said. "He's playing football, we're playing basketball. We can't touch him or guard him. So, good for him."

That does seem a bit unfair.

It's no secret that superstars benefit from a friendly whistle in the NBA. As a result, we get moments like this to enjoy. That's little solace to the opposing team. Russell's frustration is understandable, but it's also a window into a larger point about Zion.

He is playing football. He's stronger than everyone else and willing to embrace that. The only way to stop him is to match that physicality. It would be a mistake for him not to exploit his advantages whenever possible, especially in crunch time when officials are more willing to let the players decide things on their own.