Men's Basketball

Duke teammates Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett proud to share iconic photo, moment

It’s been the image of the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

During Duke’s 85-62 win over North Dakota State on Friday, guard R.J. Barrett threw home a dunk on a fast break with Zion Williamson in the background looking as if he was levitating as Barrett went up.

The photo, captured by The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s Ethan Hyman, was a conversation piece during Duke’s press conference Saturday at Colonial Life Arena. The first two questions to Williamson and Barrett were about the dunk, which brought back memories of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James’ iconic photo back in 2010.

That photo shows James going up for a slam and Wade celebrating with his arms out wide in the forefront.

“That wasn’t a surprise when I have dunked he has been in the background. We are just happy for each other,” Williamson said. “When one of us gets a fast break, the other is behind them saying show me something. We always boost each other up.

“We like to celebrate for each other, so whenever one of us gets it done, you’ll probably see the other one in the background jumping just as high as him.”

The two future NBA Lottery picks said the photo is a perfect representation of their relationship together. Both Williamson and Barrett were the top recruits in the country last season but have put whatever egos they might have aside and continued their strong friendship together which began in the recruiting process.

“It’s been great, definitely playing with this team, playing with Zion,” Barrett said. “Especially for me, we had a little joke that, whenever I’m in trouble, he always bails me out. Every time I get stuck, he always cuts, and I can just throw it anywhere and get it to him. So we definitely bail each other out, and it’s been a lot of fun to play with him.”