Basketball star Zion Williamson’s Nike shoe splits, Twitter responds

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Zion Williamson sprained his knee when his Nike shoe collapsed on the court. (Reuters)

NEW YORK:

A Nike Inc sneaker worn by a college basketball superstar split in less than a minute in a highly anticipated game between Duke University and North Carolina, sparking an outcry on social media as the company was trying to understand the cause of the problem.

Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-7 freshman forward for the Duke Blue Devils who is expected to be the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, suffered a slight sprained right knee from Wednesday night’s incident, according to his trainer Mike Krzyzewski.

Duke Basketball’s official Twitter account (@DukeMBB) tweeted Thursday night that Zion “is progressing as planned and his status is day to day.”

A close-up video replay showed Williamson sliding and collapsing to the ground, clutching his knee in pain. His left shoe is seen split in half, with part of the sole torn from the base of the sneaker.

Williamson did not return to play in the match-up.

“We are obviously concerned and wish Zion a speedy recovery,” Nike said in a statement. “The quality and performance of our products are of the utmost importance. Although this is an isolated event, we are working to identify the problem. “

Shares of the sportswear maker closed down 1% on Thursday, a day after the incident, wiping out some $ 1.46 billion from Nike’s market cap since the close on Wednesday.

Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel said in a note that he was optimistic “any lasting damage to the company and its actions will prove to be minimal.”

Williamson was wearing the Nike PG 2.5 basketball shoe when he was injured, Nike confirmed to Reuters in an email. The sneaker line, which launched in the summer of 2018, sells for between $ 95 and $ 105 on Nike’s website.

The shoe received mixed reviews and a 4 out of 5 star rating on Nike.com on Thursday.

Nike is the exclusive supplier of uniforms, shoes and clothing to Duke under a 12-year contract that was extended in 2015 and has had an exclusive agreement with the private university since 1992, ESPN reported.

Nike’s latest quarterly results have shown signs of a rebound as they accelerate new product launches and expand partnerships with online retailers. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company is forecasting near double-digit sales growth for 2019.

Williamson, who averaged 21.6 points per game, has been named the “next Lebron James” and is expected to be selected first in the NBA Draft in June.

Krzyzewski said it was not clear how long Williamson would be out due to the injury.

Former President Barack Obama, director Spike Lee and NFL star running back Todd Gurley attended Wednesday’s game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Blue Devils.

A video of the game posted to Twitter showed Obama sitting beside the court, expressing his shock and saying the words “his shoe broke!” “

The incident has lit up social media, with celebrities and some of basketball’s biggest stars expressing shock and dismay.

“I hope the young guy is doing well! LeBron James (@KingJames) tweeted Wednesday. “He literally blew through his [shoe]he added, using a shoe emoji.

Donovan Mitchell, a former NBA first-round draft pick and current Utah Jazz goaltender, said “something has to change.”

Nike’s sentiment on social media has plummeted as a result of the malfunction, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph. With 1.6 billion impressions and a reach of 170 million users, people were twice as likely to express negative feelings about the sportswear maker, according to data from Zoomph.

Here are some reactions on Twitter:

This is not the first time that Nike has faced a controversy over the craftsmanship of its sportswear. In 2017, the company faced a backlash when several NBA jerseys worn by basketball stars, including James, were torn apart.



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