Duke basketball star Zion Williamson sprains knee after Nike shoe explodes in Duke-UNC game

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DURHAM, NC – Duke may have to figure out what the Zion Show will look like without its namesake.

And Zion Williamson might have some things to consider as well.

All because of an unnatural injury to arguably the most exciting player in college basketball in the opening minute of the sport’s fiercest rivalry, one that helped turn a much-anticipated clash – ahead of yet another. celebrity crowd, this one including Spike Lee and former President Barack Obama – in a blowout.

As his Nike shoe exploded, Williamson sprained his right knee in the first possession of what became the 88-72 loss to North Carolina No.8 Duke on Wednesday night.

In the aftermath of this loss, coach Mike Krzyzewski was not ready to look to the future. He was still trying to figure out how quickly everything deflated after the injury.

“I’d rather not talk about what we’re going to do,” Krzyzewski said. “I’d rather talk about what just happened. Because we’re going to find out what we’re going to do. So I don’t have that answer.”

Krzyzewski says Williamson’s knee is stable and the sprain is slight, but he doesn’t know how long his first star will be missing.

He doesn’t have much time to find a replacement for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-best scorer and most dynamic playmaker.

The Blue Devils (23-3, 11-2) play Saturday night in Syracuse – who already knows how to beat a Duke team after losing a key freshman to injury. Orange beat No.1 Duke last month in overtime after point guard Tre Jones suffered a shoulder injury.

Williamson is averaging 22.4 points, but his impact goes way beyond the scoring. He also grabs 9.2 rebounds and blocked almost two shots per game.

In his absence, North Carolina simply dominated the paint, edging out the Blue Devils 62-28 there while also building a 46-41 advantage on the rebound. The Tar Heels shot 51% – 57% in the second half – despite shooting 2 for 20 on 3 points.

RJ Barrett tied the best of the season with 33 points, and teammate Cameron Reddish had a high of 27, but the rest of the team combined for just 12 points.

“I hope he is fine,” Barrett said of Williamson. “We don’t really know where it is right now.”

Apparently neither Williamson. And now, a month after the freshman star dismissed questions about caution in risking injury while playing – Hall of Fame member Scottie Pippen had suggested he better shut it down for the year – this debate is sure to be revived.

Utah Jazz goalie Donovan Mitchell, who played at the University of Louisville, said on Twitter that “something has to change” as a result of the injury.

“Again, let’s remember all the money that was put into this game… and these players are not getting any… and now Zion is injured,” he tweeted.

Williamson grabbed his right knee in pain after slipping awkwardly and fell when his left shoe collapsed as he planted hard while dribbling near the free throw line. The blue rubber sole pulled away from the white shoe from heel to toe along the outer edge, with Williamson’s foot crossing the wide gap.

He left with a slight limp, but on his own, before heading to the locker room with no shoes on.

Nike said in a statement it was “concerned” and wished Williamson a speedy recovery. He said he was “working to identify the problem.”

Obama – who watched the game from a base seat near the Duke bench – said on Twitter that Williamson “looks like an exceptional young man as well as an exceptional basketball player. I wish him a speedy recovery.”

The Blue Devils too.
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