CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It took two minutes.
Zion Williamson had been away for a month after a knee injury against North Carolina. Six games of frustration – including three defeats – for Duke and a flurry of debate about the future of the freshman superstar filled the void. And then, two minutes from Duke's 84-72 conquered in Syracuse in the Thursday quarters of the ACC tournament, Williamson reminded the world of basketball what was missing.
Williamson stole an outlet passage, dribble down, jumped from just inside dirty line and delivered a powerful tomahawk dunk. The cell phone cameras flickered, the crowd exploded and it looked like Williamson had never left. And that was just the beginning.
The freshman Duke finished the game by shooting 1
Zion Williamson made all 13 of his shots, five high-flying slaps, and scored 29 points in his comeback to lead the No. 5 Duke to a 84-72 victory over Syracuse on the night of Thursday in the quarter-finals Atlantic Coast Conference final.
A month ago, it was discussed that Williamson should return to everyone. Thursday, he said he would have no other way.
"Everyone has the right to an opinion, but I knew I would be back all the time," Williamson
said. he was unaware of his perfect shooting night until a team manager informed him later, and downplayed the success by noting that "he could not throw a tennis ball into the ocean" from the free-throw line (2-for -9). But Syracuse's coach, Jim Boeheim, invented the hype machine where Williamson didn't.
"I've been in this game for over 50 years and have seen some great players," Boeheim said. "I'm not saying it's better than those guys, but you can do things that no one has done in this game. And it's crazy. It's a different kind of player. There are no guys like him."
Jay Bilas brings down the impact of Zion Williamson for Duke in his first game against Syracuse.
Williamson, who won the ACC player's award year despite losing the last month of the regular season, changed the dynamic at both ends of the field for a team that has struggled to find an identity without him. His five rubles opened the transition game for Duke, and helped the Blue Devils dominate the Orange in the paint. Perhaps important to Duke, he proved to be healthy enough to change the dynamic against North Carolina in the third installment of this season's rivalry, which takes place on Friday in the semifinals.
Williamson was asked after the game how eager he was to be back Mike Krzyzewski interrupted the answer.
"How about how much I wanted it out there?"
After another crush on Williamson, about eight minutes from the start of the game, the Frank Howard of Syracuse extended his leg in what appeared to be an effort to trip the Duke's star as he retreated into field in defense. The move caused a stir on social media and broadcasters blew the move during the game. Later, however, Boeheim was ready to defend his player, calling it a "fabricated" story and saying that there was no journey.
Howard offered a similar refutation, saying that he was not going to hurt Williamson and to indicate his career in Syracuse as proof is not a dirty player.
"I mean, if you said I tried to make him stumble, I don't understand," Howard said. "I realized I stumbled and tried to give him a small hand at the same time, that is, it's the heat of the game with a very tough defender on me, and I was trying to open up, grab the ball and get the ball out quickly … He's an infernal athlete and an infernal player, I have a lot of respect for him, I won't wait four years to get to this stage to incite people. "
For his part, Williamson said he was not aware of the & # 39. Intervention incident until after the game and seems puzzled by the dispute. However, he had a lot to say about the heated debate on his sneakers that followed his February injury.
Williamson wore Paul George Nikes, who had opened during a rotation on the opening possession of Duke's loss to North Carolina on February 20th. Williamson said it was the second time he launched a Nike shoe after tearing the tip of a Kyrie Irving model during the summer.
After the high-profile injury, however, Nike sent representatives to Duke, met Krzyzewski and Williamson, then traveled to China to work on producing a modified version of Kyrie 4 shoes with additional padding. Williamson was also told to rotate his shoes more often.
Nike released a statement on Thursday ahead of Williamson's return: "We are excited to see Zion return to court. After working closely with the Duke Basketball team to review the issue, we are sure it was a isolated incident. We continue to work with Duke and all our partner programs to ensure that we are providing the best product for their athletes. "
Krzyzewski also offered his support for the brand.  "We think it's the best shoe otherwise we wouldn't be with them," Krzyzewski said.