Nike Gets Blown Out on College Basketball’s Biggest Stage
Zion Williamson is the favorite to be the No.1 pick in 2019’s NBA Draft. In what is regarded as a weak class, he is the exception. Called a generational talent, the Duke freshman has a bright future with the NBA, big money, and shoe contracts—just not with Nike.
Williamson is what Nike is all about: A freak athlete they can advertise. However, that might not be the case this time. On Feb. 20, #1 Duke hosted rival #8 North Carolina. Tickets were going for $3,000—Super Bowl prices. Even a former president was there. Everyone wanted to see Williamson and they did… for 33 seconds.
Sporting Duke-colored Nike PG 2.5s (NBA Star Paul George’s shoe), Williamson was dribbling at the foul line, planted his left foot, and his shoe blew out. He fell to the floor, clutching his right knee. Everyone held his or her breath as he limped off the court in the 88-72 Duke loss.
Diagnosed as a mild knee sprain, Williamson and Duke seem okay. Nike, however, felt the burn. Social media lit up against it with rival brands like Puma using tweets (since deleted) to attack the apparel giant. In damage control, Nike released the following statement:
“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”
“Isolated” may be a reach. While rare, this isn’t the first time Nike apparel has fallen apart. The following day, Nike’s stock dropped 1.1%. With March Madness looming, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for Duke, the NCAA and even more so … Nike.
- SOURCE: CBS Sports
- BRANDS: Nike, Zion, Duke, NCAA basketball
- WHY IT MATTERS: Nike’s basketball shoes and player endorsements are key to its billion-dollar footwear business