NBA player Zion Williamson revealed in an interview on Aug 15, 2022, that around 80% of the players in NBA are into anime. However, most of them won’t admit it.
According to Williamson, there is no genre, other than Shonen anime, which is better suited to professionals, because of the parallels between protagonists in these anime, trying to achieve greatness in their chosen field, and the athletes, who share a similar goal.
“They’re long-form stories about what it takes to be The Best—not incidentally, the same goal that drives athletes.”
Williamson’s statement holds water considering the fact that he is not the only player to have openly admitted to being an anime fan. While his reverence for Naruto is well known, pushing him to launch a line of sneakers based on the anime, other NBA stars like Joel Embiid and even Steven Adams too fall in the same bracket.
Anime references too have begun making appearances in the west, with Seattle Seahawk’s Travis Homer celebrating with an Attack on Titan salute after scoring a 73-yard fake punt touchdown, and Los Angeles Chargers posting their official game schedules and game lineups in an anime-inspired trailer.
In the interview, Williamson also revealed the role that Naruto in helping him bounce back from a turbulent 2021-22.
Before the start of the ‘21-22 NBA season Williamson broke his foot, which forced him out for the whole year. The more he stayed away from the field, the more the injury got to him.
“My foot was broken and I couldn’t magically heal it. It hurt, because I love the game of basketball. But because of it I was experiencing hate and pain from people I don’t know every day, and it started to wear on me,” Williamson told GQ.
However, he once again turned to his favorite anime and took inspiration to put the worst behind him.
Williamson has been re-signed on a 5-year deal by New Orleans Pelicans this summer. He also made an appearance at the San Diego Comic Con this year, dressed in a customized Hokage costume, to promote his line of sneakers.