NEW ORLEANS - On April 17, 2019, the New Orleans Pelicans hired David Griffin to be the team's executive vice president of basketball operations to oversee the impending trade of Anthony Davis, the franchise's generational talent that went on record with his intentions to move on.
On May 14, 2019, Griffin's job got that much easier.
In the first year of the league's new lottery system, the ball bounced in the Pelicans favour as the team won the No. 1 overall pick, the pick that would inevitably be used to select the generational talent that is Zion Williamson.
On June 20, 2019, Williamson officially became a Pelican, as he emotionally took the stage when Adam Silver announced he would, indeed, be the first overall selection.
New Orleans, and Griffin, had finally gotten its guy.
Hours after it became official, the executive sat in front of an international media audience, and as he began to speak, it was Zion Williamson the human - not the basketball player -that we learned about.
"We went through a pretty thorough process there I think in terms of knowing that the human part of all of that was right. Alvin Gentry and I were able to meet with Zion the night of the lottery and we were so taken with him as a human being, 20 minutes into it, I asked if he would mind if his parents came downstairs and sat with us, and we sat with them for about an hour and a half.
Griffin continued, adding that "this is a really, really impressive family. The human element of this family is as impressive as the on-court element of Zion… so again, I want to keep reiterating that the human part of it is at least as big as the on-court part."
The basketball world caught its best glimpse of Williamson's human side not long after he was selected, as he was overcome with emotions while speaking of his mom's sacrifices to get him where he is today. A moment that, according to Griffin, brought about similar emotion in the Pelicans War Room.
An emotional @Zionwilliamson discusses his journey to becoming the #1 overall pick in the #NBADraft! pic.twitter.com/J9zpyqE4HN- NBA (@NBA) June 21, 2019
"When you see that kid on that stage, who lives for that stage, be incapable of formulating thoughts other than how grateful he is - that impacts you in a really powerful way. So we all went from 'OHHHHHH!' to, 'Oh, God. That's really, really sweet… we went from 'wow, this is really going to be special' to 'see, that's why we love him.'"
As amazing of a talent as Zion is, it became overwhelmingly clear that he has proven to be an even better person. Given all that has and will come his way, the quality of his character at just 18-years-old will ensure that he is prepared. To shoulder the load and eventually become the face of a franchise, one needs to possess the exact characteristics that Griffin raved about.
On the basketball side of things, his team-first mentality has wowed Griffin more than anything else.
"He's got this magnetic personality and he makes everybody see such star quality that you immediately say 'he's the one.' He's the one because all he wants to do is win basketball games. Zion Williamson does not give a damn about how many stats he puts up, he doesn't care about any individual awards. All he wants to do is win basketball games."
It's made obvious by the effect he has had on the Pelicans brass in just six short weeks. One could only imagine the growth over months, years and seasons of success.
After spending just one year with Williamson, Duke's Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski coach made sure to make a call to Griffin to congratulate him and the franchise for the quality of person they're getting.
That's saying something.
It's often said that to build something sustainable, a perfect brick must be laid day-by-day. What we learned on draft night is that what is being built in New Orleans got off to as good of a start as the franchise could ask for, and it began from the moment it won the lottery.
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