CHICAGO — It didn’t take long for Zion Williamson to make a lasting impression at the NBA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night.
The New Orleans Pelicans rookie star caught several highlight-reel alley-oops that left the crowd in awe shortly before halftime.
The dunks also appeared to temporarily damage some equipment in the process.
After an alley-oop connection from Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant at the 1:34 mark of the second quarter, the backboard was visibly shaking. By the time Trae Young found Williamson for another thunderous slam with 1:09 remaining, the backboard wasn’t only shaking — it was left tilted.
Williamson then caught a between-the-legs alley-oop from Morant to send the crowd into a frenzy. As the teams went into halftime following a Luka Doncic half-court 3-pointer with one second left, the backboard was still tilted.
The backboard was readjusted at halftime by Spaulding, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. They were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
Williamson, whose size (6-6, 285 lbs) and power helped make him the No. 1 pick last summer, finished with 14 points in the United States’ 151-131 win over Doncic’s World team.
Williamson didn’t realize he bent the backboard, he told reporters after the game. “Not at all,” Williamson said.
“When we went into halftime my teammates were telling me about it.”
Young likewise was shocked. “Did he? That’s crazy,” Young said when told of the backboard’s plight.
“That’s probably not the first backboard he’s done that to.”
Follow Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.