Zion Williamson’s injury from rare shoe failure puts spotlight on Nike

Former President Barack Obama mouthed what became evident soon after Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson crumpled to the court during the most hyped regular-season NCAA basketball game in some time. 

“His shoe broke,” cameras caught the nation’s 44th president saying as he pointed toward the fallen presumed No. 1 pick of the NBA draft. 

The shoe – a Nike PG 2.5 PE – soon became the focus after Williamson left the game early with a knee injury. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after his top-ranked team dropped an 88-72 decision to No. 9 UNC that Williamson suffered “a mild knee sprain.”

“For a shoe to fall apart – completely fall apart – came in one of the most highly anticipated games in a long time,” legendary sports executive Sonny Vaccaro told USA TODAY Sports. “This magnifies it. There was no NBA game going on and Zion had as much hype as anyone in a while. Tickets were going for thousands of dollars. The moon and the stars aligned and everyone in the world saw it.” 

Opinion: Despite injury, Zion Williamson has benefited tremendously from playing at Duke

At 6-foot-7, 284 pounds, Williamson has been compared with Charles Barkley, another big man who had finesse and control. But there have been plenty of players over the years with those dimensions whose shoes remained intact. 

“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery," Nike said in a statement (per Bleacher Report). "The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

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