What should have been Nike’s moment of glory quickly turned into a horrible nightmare as America watched the brand explode – literally.
It’s not easy to upstage Barack Obama, but Zion Williamson did it on Thursday (AEDT) – and it was terrible news for Nike.
The former US president was in the house to watch Duke take on the University of North Carolina (UNC) in one of college basketball’s fiercest rivalries, as fans across the country tuned in to the televised game at national scale.
Fans went wild when Obama entered the stadium and other celebrities like director Spike Lee and baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr also joined him in the stands.
They all wanted a first-hand look at the man destined to become an unstoppable force in the NBA and it didn’t take long for Williamson to steal the show from Obama and Co. and send social media absolutely bananas.
But while the future No. 1 draft pick has done it time and time again with outrageous athletic feats for Duke, this time it’s his fashion that has caught the eye – but for all the wrong reasons.
Williamson’s Nike shoe exploded less than a minute into the blockbuster and the 18-year-old fell in a heap. He grabbed his leg after it hit the ground before hobbling towards the locker room.
“His foot comes out of his shoe. It’s amazing,” one commenter said.
Duke then released a statement saying Williamson would sit out the remainder of the game due to a knee injury.
Williamson grabbed his right knee in pain after slipping awkwardly and fell when his left shoe collapsed as he planted while dribbling near the free throw line.
Williamson, the ACC’s second-leading scorer with 22.4 points per game and arguably the most exciting player in college basketball, left with a slight limp but on his own before returning to the locker room without shoes on. feet.
The calamity has spelled disaster for Nike – who are hoping to sign the teenage prodigy when he becomes available in April – as it happened in the most-watched college game of the season. You know there will be plenty of eyeballs on you when Obama rocks, but everyone watching will have been devastated when the main attraction was obliterated by a fashion failure.
Some bettors paid over US$9,000 for tickets to the match to catch Williamson in action. He is so good that ESPN basketball commentator Fran Fraschilla said last year that he would earn $1 billion playing the sport “without effort”.
ESPN’s Jay Williams also said the teenage beast is in the running for an A$1.4 million shoe deal.
Viewers were quick to flood social media to let Nike executives know — in case they couldn’t figure it out for themselves — how damaging the explosive shoe was to the brand and to their hopes of success. landing Williamson and attaching himself to the waiting $1 billion megastar.
Rival sportswear company Puma also hit Nike with a spiked sledge in a since-deleted sledge that read, “This wouldn’t have happened to Pumas.”
To make matters worse, NBA superstar LeBron James drew the attention of his 42.2 million Twitter followers to the incident.
Other NBA commentators have finally reached boiling point amid the ongoing outcry over college basketball rules that ban any form of player payment in a sport that still ranks amateur.
Duke has been in a 12-year agreement with Nike for four years as the exclusive supplier of uniforms, footwear and apparel. The private school did not disclose the terms of the 2015 contract extension.
Nike has had an exclusive agreement with the university since 1992