It took only 36 seconds for the most anticipated college basketball game of the year to lose traction. Duke’s cadre of freshman standouts faced North Carolina on Wednesday night, and tickets at Cameron Indoor Stadium reached Super Bowl–level prices on the secondary market before tipoff. The main draw was Zion Williamson, but the Blue Devils superstar’s evening ended early when he slipped on the court, burst out of his left Nike, and injured his knee.
Assuming Williamson is OK (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters the 18-year-old suffered a “mild knee sprain”), then Wednesday’s events may only enhance his legend. We’ve already seen Williamson crush a basketball with his fingers, and now this teenaged Paul Bunyan is tearing through a rubber sole like it’s a papier-mâché clog. Even Barack Obama, who was in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium, had to marvel at this feat of strength.
Duke looked helpless without Williamson, and North Carolina cruised to a 88–72 victory on their opponents’ home court.
But the biggest concern is for the Blue Devils’ young star, who risked his health and future NBA career while playing for free in a nationally televised game. Nike released a statement acknowledging that this lucrative enterprise fails to reward the laborers who make it possible. Just kidding, they released a statement about the shoes.
Those shoes, a Paul George signature model called the PG 2.5, have received largely positive reviews online, though Nike’s claim that this was “an isolated occurrence” may be dubious. I’d like to turn your attention to Exhibit A, a one-star review from October by someone in Oklahoma who calls himself Schoolballer21:
I wore these only on a basketball court for maybe a month, and the traction area on the sole busted through the bottom. Would not recommend!!!!
The above is from Scheels.com, and it’s followed by a simple question: “Was this review helpful?” One person said yes. While it’s extremely unlikely that person is Zion Williamson, we’re unable to prove definitively that it isn’t Zion Williamson. And if it is, can you really blame him?