During a matchup against arch-rivals UNC, then-Duke superstar Zion Williamson literally burst his foot out of a Nike sneaker, leading to an unfortunate knee injury.
Back in 2019, Zion Williamson was one of the most hyped prospects entering the league since LeBron James in 2003. And it is safe to say that Zion has lived up to, or some might even argue superseded, all the surreal expectations set for him. Having played only 2 seasons till now, Williamson has already established himself as one of the best players in the league, who will surely be one of the future faces of the NBA.
This past season, despite all of New Orleans Pelicans’ failures, the 21-year-old had quite a sensational campaign individually. Averaging 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists on an outstanding 61.1% shooting from the field, Zion proved all his haters and naysayers wrong.
Back in 2019, when Williamson was still playing under legendary Coach K for the Duke Blue Devils, Zion had numerous jaw-dropping plays every other game. Whether it was his famous block against Virginia, that one time when he almost deflated the ball with his fingers, or his numerous dunks. However, there was one play, in particular, that was pretty bizarre – When Zion’s feet literally burst out of his shoes.
It does sound unbelievable at first. But here, have a look at it.
Zion Williamson had his foot burst out of a Nike PG 2.5 leading to a knee injury
Back on 20th February 2019, the Blue Devils hosted rivals UNC at the Cameron Indoor Stadium. Now, any Duke-UNC rivalry is an epic one. This one was no less than a blockbuster. Some of the league’s current players headlined in the game – Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Coby White, Cam Johnson, Nassir Little. However, only 33 seconds into the highly-anticipated matchup, Zion’s foot exploded out of his shoe leading him to miss the remainder of the game due to an unfortunate knee injury.
The USA’s 44th President Barack Obama, who was one of the thousands of attendees, was seen on camera saying “His shoe broke”.
The after-effects of an 18-year-old college athlete’s foot exploding from a shoe, you may ask? Well, the very next day Nike’s brand stock was down about 1.37% which was an astounding value of $3 billion (approx.) That really is a lot of damage caused by a $110 pair of sneakers.
As soon as Nike was aware of the incident, they released a statement which said:
“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” the Nike statement said. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”
Many believed, after the horrific incident, Williamson would sit out the rest of the tournament and prepare for the 2019 NBA Draft. However, being the incredible team player he is, Williamson made a return and even helped lead his team to the Elite Eight of the NCAA March Madness.