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Shoe dat: Breaking down Zion Williamson's sneaker fiasco

Zion Williamson's left sneaker entered the national spotlight Wednesday.
Zion Williamson's left sneaker entered the national spotlight Wednesday.

Wednesday night, the 249th edition of the greatest rivalry in college basketball occurred and Barack Obama made an appearance at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Why in the world is Zion Williamson’s left sneaker all anybody can talk about right now? 

What went down

Just 33 seconds into North Carolina’s eventual dismantling of the Blue Devils, Williamson, attempted a spin move at the top of the key, and, much to the dismay of the eager Cameron Crazies, fell to the hardwood, grabbing onto his right knee. 


Although the injury was worrisome, the immediate reaction of many, including me, was not the severity of the incident. Rather, all I could think was, “Did Zion just blow through his shoe?”

Let’s turn to the former president for a verdict:


While it is a bit hard to see, given that his socks and shoes are both white, that is Williamson’s sock poking through the remnants of his sneaker. Yes, the 6-foot-7, 285-pound behemoth did prove to be too much for his measly basketball shoes, and split the sneaker in two.

Who are you wearing?

The loser of the battle between Zion’s right foot and his sneaker was the Nike PG 2.5, part of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George’s signature line. 

The old adage of “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is certainly being tested right now, as the backlash against Nike is strong. If you don’t believe me, just look at any Duke student’s Instagram feed right now.

George himself expressed concern about the situation, and reached out to Nike to determine "what went wrong" with Williamson's kicks. 



The aftermath

Although "sneaker-gate" may not be the sole reason—pun intended—for the drop, Nike shares fell 1.05 percent Thursday. The relationship between Nike and Duke is also being put into question. 

A contract between the corporation and the university lasting through 2027 ensures that all Blue Devil basketball players must don Nike shoes on the court, meaning that Zion had no choice but to wear those fated sneakers.

With the Nike-exclusive Duke Team Store, located just steps from Cameron, serving as a glorious representation of Duke and Nike's connection, it is unlikely that the university seeks an out from its deal with the sneaker company, much to the chagrin of those I follow on Instagram.

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