It was a high-profile televised game (North Carolina versus Duke) with famous attendees in the crowd (former President Barack Obama) in which one of the biggest stars in college basketball (Zion Williamson) suffered a knee injury due to the malfunction of a sneaker made by one of the most prominent athletic apparel brands in the United States (Nike).
One can be sure Nike executives are scrambling to control the damage after Williamson’s left Nike sneaker tore apart just 33 seconds into Wednesday night’s game, resulting in a knee sprain that sent him to the locker room for the rest of the night.
“It’s already all over the world while we’re still watching the game he got hurt in,” Sonny Vaccaro, a former Nike veteran said during halftime. “They’re going to show it until we die.”
As a freshman at Duke, Williamson is already expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
“If I’m the shoe company that had the shoe on the kid tonight,” Vaccaro said. “I’m praying to God that everything is OK physically.”
Zion's shoe: destroyed pic.twitter.com/LqQ2te0Jay— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2019
According to Yahoo Sports, the rip in Williamson’s shoe went from the middle of the front of the sneaker’s sole all the way to the heel, “appearing as though it’d been sliced by a sickle rather than ruptured by a foot.”
Competing shoe manufacturers erupted on Twitter. Puma’s official account tweeted, “Wouldn’t have happened in Pumas.” That tweet was quickly taken down. Meanwhile, Celtics point guard, Terry Rozier, tweeted, “Come to Puma.”
Williamson was wearing the Nike PG 2.5.
"We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery," Nike said in a statement. "The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue."
Williamson’s presence on the court was felt by Duke Wednesday night, as North Carolina scored 32 of its first 34 points in the paint and finished with a 62-28 scoring advantage there. The Tar Heels beat the Blue Devil’s 88-72.
Shares of Nike were down 1.34 percent Thursday morning at the opening bell on Wall Street.