Duke forward Zion Williamson exited for the night with a knee injury after falling awkwardly in the opening minute of top-ranked Duke’s showdown with No. 8 North Carolina on Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
After the game, won by North Carolina 88-72, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski termed Williamson’s ailment a “mild knee sprain.”
Williamson was injured on a bizarre play in which he dribbled near the top of the key, planted his left foot, then fell to the ground as his left shoe shredded down the middle of the sole. He subsequently was assisted to the locker room.
Late in the first half, the Blue Devils announced Williamson would not return to the game.
Williamson, a freshman sensation, entered the night averaging 22.4 points per game, the second-best mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The shoe he was wearing Wednesday was the Nike PG 2.5, a Paul George-themed model, according to multiple media reports.
After the game, Nike issued a 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.”
Among the many people sending their thoughts with Williamson was Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who has an endorsement deal with Nike. James tweeted, “Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew thru his (shoe emoji).” The tweet ended with a praying emoji.
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With Williamson widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas had a message to the league and the player: “Let these kids go straight out of HS!!! Too much on the line to be messing with college if you got a legit chance to turn pro. One injury can change somebody career, Zion sit yo ass down lol and we will be ready for you in the big boy league #LookingOutForThePlayers”
- Field Level Media