DURHAM, N.C. — Soon after Zion Williamson’s shoe ripped apart, Nike’s stock price took a hit.
The freak injury during one of the college basketball season’s marquee games immediately sparked debates about everything from the shoe manufacturer to insurance issues and whether the likely NBA lottery pick should risk his professional future by continuing to play for the top-ranked-for-now Blue Devils.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Duke’s loss to No. 8 North Carolina on Wednesday night that Williamson sprained his right knee and didn’t know how long he will be out.
By Thursday morning, Nike, which manufactured the shoes Williamson was wearing, also was feeling the impact of the injury.
The company’s stock price was down about 1 percent, or 97 cents, to $83.87 during midday trading Thursday as the sportswear manufacturer became the target of ridicule on social media. A spokesman said Nike has begun an investigation into what it called an “isolated” event.
“Shoes have failed before, but not as visibly,” said Matt Powell, a senior industry advisor for sports for the NPD Group, a market research firm.
Williamson was hurt in the opening minute of the game as his Nike PG 2.5, from Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George’s signature sneaker line, tore apart. Williamson wears that model frequently during games and hadn’t had any obvious problems.
George said Thursday that he has talked with Nike to see what went wrong and what happened to the shoe.
“It hasn’t happened to me as long as I’ve been in this shoe,” George said. “We’ve made three generations, going on four now of my shoe, of being successful. So I didn’t necessarily feel any way about that part — the negative part of it. My only concern was for Zion, honestly.”
Since Duke is a Nike-sponsored school, Williamson has his choice of that company’s footwear.