There were many losers outside of the Duke Blue Devils when the team fell to North Carolina in Wednesday’s rivalry game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Zion Williamson lost out on the chance to showcase his abilities on the biggest stage, so far, of his young career, when his shoe came apart and he injured his knee. Likewise, fans lost out on a chance to see Williamson play in his first Tobacco Road rivalry game.
Williamson’s injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, so the NBA was spared of possibly losing the projected No. 1 overall draft pick to a lengthy absence.
But none of the above took as big of an “L” as Nike did. It was a Nike PG 2.5 that Williamson’s foot went through in one of the strangest plays that many have ever seen.
Zion’s shoe: destroyed ? pic.twitter.com/LqQ2te0Jay
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2019
Now the sportswear apparel giant is facing a major backlash in the wake of Williamson’s high-profile equipment malfunction.
Shares in Nike dropped 1.7 percent at one point Thursday and finished the day down 1.1 percent. That represented a $1.1 billion decline in stock value, CBS News reported.
Nike released a statement about the malfunction, saying, “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.”
NIKE 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.”
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 21, 2019
The circumstances of the shoe blowout could not have been any worse for Nike.
The UNC-Duke rivalry is the biggest in college basketball and Zion Williamson is the biggest name in college basketball.
According to Sports Media Watch, Wednesday’s game posted the highest overnight rating of any ESPN college basketball game in 11 years, so there were plenty of eyeballs on the shoe blowout.
Nearly as bad as Nike stock decline is the public opinion hit the company is also suffering. Many on social media took shots at the sneaker giant.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 21, 2019
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 21, 2019
— Nick Pastura (@SenorNickyP) February 21, 2019
This is Year 4 of a 12-year deal that Duke has with Nike as its supplier of uniforms, shoes and apparel. Nike has had an exclusive deal with the Blue Devils since 1992.
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