Basketball world reacts to Zion Williamson’s broken Nike shoe, injury

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Many following the broken Zion Williamson Nike shoe fiasco at the UNC vs Duke basketball game took to social media about the game, the shoe breaking and what the young man should do for the rest of the college basketball season.

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — FEBRUARY 20: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after falling as his shoe breaks in the first half of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Williamson, thought by many to be basketball’s brightest prospect since LeBron James, went down hard when his shoe split in half while planting his foot, forcing him off with a knee injury seconds into Duke University’s much-anticipated encounter against North Carolina.

Tickets for the local derby were reportedly available for over $3,000 and freshman forward Williamson — described by double NBA champion Kevin Durant as a “once-in-a-generation athlete” — was a big reason for the inflated prices.

Williamson’s top-ranked Duke side was on a nine-match winning streak, but without their 285-pound 6 feet 8 inch star player the Blue Devils fell to a 88-72 defeat Wednesday.

“Obviously, you lose a national player of the year candidate there are going to be gaps in what you have to do,” said coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Obama, part of a crowd in Cameron that also included Hollywood director Spike Lee, could be seen on the sidelines pointing and saying “his shoe broke” as Williamson went down.

Nike, which exclusively supplies the university with uniforms, shoes and clothing, later issued a statement saying it was examining what caused the long rip above the sole.

“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” read the 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.”

Obama later tweeted: “Zion Williamson seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player. Wishing him a speedy recovery.”

LA Lakers star James also tweeted to wish Williamson well after the incident.

“Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew through his (shoe emoji).”

Williamson is the projected number one pick in June’s NBA Draft and ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Forbes last year the teenager could “make $1 billion playing basketball effortlessly.”

A former UVA player, Akil Mitchell, took to Twitter to show his broken Nike shoe. He had posted in January saying “Come on Nick Basketball. That’s my third pair in 5 games like this.” He retweeted the original Tweet after Zion’s game Wednesday evening.

Luke Maye scored 30 points for UNC and Cameron Johnson contributed 26 for the No. 8 ranked Tar Heels. Both teams currently trail Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“The preparation you would have for the game is obviously based on your players being there,” added coach Krzyzewski, who expects Williamson to be absent for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.

“It puts everyone in a state of trying to figure it out while you’re playing an outstanding team. That’s not a good situation. I thought our guys really played hard in the first half. We were knocked back after that injury, you could see it.”

Many have also suggested that the young basketball phenom should shut himself down for the season so that he does not get hurt before the draft.

Willaimson would not be the first college athlete to do this.

A projected first-round pick in the NFL draft, defensive end Nick Bosa, shut himself down at Ohio State after he got hurt playing football during the season. He was one of the team’s captains during the season. Many others in college football have done the same as a way to prevent injury, which could ultimately impact the draft status, and the money they stand to make professionally.

NCAA athletes — who are considered by the association as amateurs — cannot profit off their own likeness. A hot topic issue that many have suggested is unfair toward certain high profile athletes at the colligate level.

Basketball players out of high school must play at least one year of college basketball, play in either NBA Developmental League or in an international professional league. They cannot go directly to the NBA. This rule was changed following LeBron James’ high profile drafting, where he went directly to the NBA.

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