NBA Star Zion Williamson Says 80% Of Players Love Anime But Won't Admit It

All the cool kids are watching anime.


Anime has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment over the decades, as Japanese animation has found millions fans across the world thanks to high-quality production values, multiple genres, and plenty of content to watch. According to New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson, anime has a big fanbase in the NBA, with the vast majority of athletes being secret fans.

Speaking to GQ about his love of the Naruto animated series and how anime helped change his life, Williamson estimated that around 80% of NBA players are keeping their love of the Japanese art form a secret. Shonen anime and manga--series which are predominantly targeted at young males--happen to be particularly popular as the formulaic story of a protagonist working to become the best (like no one ever was) in their field, resonates with many players.

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Now Playing: Berserk: Anime VS Manga (1997/2012)

"Zion estimates that around 80% of players in the league are into anime; they just won't admit it," the GQ article reads. "Those familiar with the conventions of the form know that it would be hard to craft a genre better suited to professional athletes. They're long-form stories about what it takes to be The Best, not incidentally, the same goal that drives athletes."

For fans of anime, 2022 is the kind of year that helps put Japanese animation on the pop culture map. The new Dragon Ball Super film has earned rave reviews at the box office, Spy X Family has become one of the most well-received shows of the year, and new seasons of Mob psycho 100 and Bleach are on the horizon. Throw in other series such as My Dress Up Darling, a new Tekken adaptation, and the latest Jojo's Bizarre Adventure arc, and the year has been phenomenal for new and established releases.

Not even video games are immune to the lure of anime, as Fortnite has just launched a Dragon Ball crossover that has seen the map of one of the biggest games in the world flooded with players dressed in Goku and Vegeta skins.

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