Zion Williamson loves playing in New York.

“Honestly, outside of New Orleans, obviously, I think this might be my favorite place to play outside of New Orleans,” Williamson said Sunday, after his first NBA game at Madison Square Garden.

It wasn’t just his words. It was the multi-million-dollar smile, the fawning and the gushing tone (almost like a blush) he took in answering the question. He said: “I’m glad you asked that, actually. New York is the mecca of basketball. I love playing here. I’ve played here in college. This is my first time playing here in the pros. This atmosphere, whether they are cheering for you or booing for you, it’s amazing.”

The “outside of New Orleans, obviously” part reads better than it sounded if you’re a Pelicans fan. And if you love the Knicks and are still bent they didn’t get the No. 1 pick in 2019 for the right to draft Williamson, what you saw and heard from him Sunday was poetic. It lit a fire in your belly and dared you to dream: Zion, coming to the Big Stage near you.