Sneaker news doesn't often make it to the pages of The New York Times, but when NBA Draft prospect Zion Williamson’s Nike shoes fell apart during the February 20 Duke-UNC game, it became a national talking-point.
Since then, Nike has been getting roasted online, and now Skechers has joined the onslaught. Today, March 3, the California-based footwear brand took out an ad in The New York Times' Sunday edition which reads "Just Blew It." The play on Nike's slogan is followed by "Skechers – We won't split on you." The ad shows an image of the offending sneakers, torn through at the sole in exactly the same way as Williamson's pair. Skechers also placed the ad in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
Skechers wasn't the only sneaker brand to see PR potential in Williamson’s misfortune. PUMA, in a now-deleted tweet, claimed the incident “wouldn’t have happened in the pumas.” They posted as Williamson was taken off court.
Footage from the game shows the 18-year-old player as his left Nike PG 2.5 sneaker spontaneously falls apart just 34 seconds into the first quarter, causing the 6'7", 285-pound forward to slip, fall, and injure himself.
As Duke is a Nike-sponsored school, Williamson is required to wear Nike shoes throughout the season. He was expected to be the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and so his recovery is being closely watched, particularly by Nike.