Duke Announces Zion Williamson Is Back, But His Shoe Choice Is Raising Eyebrows


In the aftermath of the shoe blowout heard around the world, freshman sensation Zion Williamson sat out for three weeks and five games as Duke basketball went 3-2 in his absence.

After resting and rehabbing his knee sprain, college basketball’s biggest star is ready to return to the court Thursday night against Syracuse in the ACC Tournament.

“When will Zion Williamson return to action?” was one of the two questions constantly being asked while he was on the sideline. The other was “What shoes will he be wearing?” Now we have our answer to that.

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Williamson will support another Blue Devil — the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving — by wearing a pair from Irving’s signature Nike line.

On Thursday, Duke posted a photo of Williamson lacing up the Kyrie 4s, which were released in late 2017.

There was no question that Williamson was going to change things up after blowing through Paul George’s PG 2.5 shoes last month.

Do you think Zion Williamson made the right choice in picking Kyrie Irving's shoes?

But his decision to go with Irving’s line was surprising. Duke has a contract with Nike so Williamson was always going with the swoosh, but there seem to be better options out there for a man of his size.

Irving’s shoes are designed for people built like him (he’s 6 feet 3, 193 pounds) and not the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson. LeBron James is the closest physical comparison to Williamson, but the Duke freshman chose the Kyries instead.

Williamson has been a fan of Irving’s shoe line since he was in high school. He was once asked, “Who has the best-looking shoe?” and he chose Irving’s line.
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“If you’re talking about design-wise, I’d go with Kyrie,” Williamson said on an Instagram Live video with LeBron James’ son, Bronny, in the room.

Under Duke’s contract with Nike, Williamson has the freedom to try out many different pairs of shoes. In fact, he wore the LeBron 16s earlier this season against Virginia.

At least for one game, Williamson will be back in the Kyrie 4s, which he also has worn this season. Those shoes trade lightness for stability, which is obviously needed after Williamson’s last game.

Williamson couldn’t have picked a better time to return to the court. Not only is it the Blue Devils’ first game of the ACC Tournament, but their opponent is one with which he is quite comfortable.

On Jan. 14, Williamson scored his college career-high of 35 points against the Orange, albeit in a 95-91 overtime loss.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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