The basketball world, both those that follow the college game and the NBA game, held its collective breath on Wednesday night when Zion Williamson went down with a knee injury 30 seconds into North Carolina-Duke.
The presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft had his left foot rip completely through his Nike PG 2.5 as he planted, causing him to slip and fall awkwardly, injuring his right knee in the process. Williamson would go to the back and not return for the game, but afterwards, coach Mike Krzyzewski offered the positive update of noting it was just a mild sprain.
It was one of the most bizarre things you’ll see on a basketball court, as Zion’s shoe exploded from the stress he put on it, and there was immediate discussion of what this meant for Nike to have their shoe tear open on such a prominent player. We won’t know if there are any long-term ramifications for the brand, but it seems far more like a freak accident than an indictment of their product given how many basketball players wear their sneakers and how rare it is for this to happen.
Still, Nike is taking this seriously and issued a statement late on Wednesday that they will be investigating what happened to try and identify any issue with the PG 2.5 that caused this to happen.
It seems most likely that this was simply a rare, unfortunate occurrence for all involved and that one shoe was just not constructed quite right or had a flaw somewhere that led to this. Still, it will be interesting to see if Williamson goes to a more robust sneaker designed for a player of his size, like the LeBron signature line, when he makes his return — as well as what sneaker company he signs with when he makes the jump to the NBA this summer.