By now most will have heard of Zion Williamson’s sneaker malfunction and the player’s resulting unfortunate injury in Duke’s game against UNC Chapel Hill. Reactions online varied.
Some used it as an opportunity to poke fun at Nike and the brand’s manufacturing, while others — which included notable NBA players such as DeMarcus Cousins and Ben Simmons — took shots at the NCAA and NBA for having age restrictions that basically force high-school players to play at Universities and colleges for free and risk their health before they’ve even had the chance to sign their first professional contract.
Amidst all the outrage, surprise, and jokes, no one was really able to explain why or how Zion Williamson, considered a lock by many to go first overall in the NBA Draft this summer, managed to rip right through his Nike sneakers.
Complex spoke to former Nike developer Tiffany Beers, who worked on high-profile projects such as the Nike Mag and HyperAdapt 1.0.
According to Beers it’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason for the malfunction. “From my experience, clearly there’s a material issue," said Beers. "Another factor is, was it a mass produced shoe, or was it a sample? Maybe the cure of the cement wasn't done properly. There has to be a manufacturing issue.”
According to Complex, Beers also mentioned reasons such as heavy wear, the freshman’s play style, or his physical attributes (Williamson is 6'7" and weighs around 280 pounds).
"It's hard to tell without seeing the shoe. I don't even think I've seen a PG 2.5," Beers told Complex. "I would say it's a little more of a freak accident than an inherent issue with the shoe. If it was an inherent issue, you probably wouldn't just see it on him. You would probably already see it happening in other areas. This is a very rare incident."
Nike has issued a statement that they are “working to identify the issue.” Zion Williams reportedly has a grade 1 right knee sprain and is day-to-day, meaning the injury is not as serious as first feared.
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