Last night, within the first minute of the highly touted game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils, a freak accident happened to the potential number one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Zion Williamson’s shoe blew up. Literally, his shoe broke while he was wearing them, which caused him to slip and fall down in pain with an apparent knee injury. In a game where ticket prices were as high as $10,000 or more, while some of the cheapest were well over $2,000, Nike’s PG 2.5 PE, failed Zion and the world. Most people in attendance were there just to see the best athlete of his size we’ve seen since LeBron James, face off against Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. This accident puts Nike in the spotlight in order to get a response to the accident as this is not the first time shoes have just “exploded” mid-game.
Plenty of NBA stars including LeBron James and Donovan Mitchell have reacted to the injury on social media, and some have seemed to fight for college athletes rights to be paid. As well as a few players who think that Zion should sit out the rest of the year, and that high school players should be allowed to go straight to the NBA.
“Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew through his (shoe) . ” (via LeBron James Twitter @KingJames)
“Again let’s remember all the money that went into this game…. and these players get none of it…. and now Zion gets hurt… something has to change @NCAA” (via Donovan Mitchell Twitter @spidadmitchell)
“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” (via Isaiah Thomas Twitter @isaiahthomas)
The NCAA has been getting tons of heat lately for the revenue that they earn from college athletes, while not letting the athletes see any of that money other than their scholarships. It seems the topic has been snowballing recently and is gaining traction throughout the athletic community. The opinion that college athletes should be paid is spreading like wildfire, and injuries like these just add fuel to the fire. If the NCAA doesn’t make a change, more and more players may start sitting out more often in order to preserve their long-term health.
According to Forbes, Zion has an $8 million loss of value insurance policy that kicks in if he falls past the number 16 pick in the NBA draft. Now I doubt that this injury is significant enough to push Zion out of the number one pick, and I don’t think any kind of injury at all would push him past number 16 in the draft. Michael Porter Jr. was out for a significant amount of time with a back injury and was still drafted at number 14 in last years draft by the Denver Nuggets. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said that the knee was stable but doesn’t have a timetable for Zion’s return.
This once in a generation talent has proved that he is human and is susceptible to injuries, just like anybody else. With what has happened to him, I’m sure he’s thinking hard about his future and what’s best for himself and his family. At this point, in my opinion, I do think he will play again Duke. He is too much of a competitor to sit out and not fight every day with his brothers.