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Nike faces questions after Duke star's injury

Posted at 3:20 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 18:46:51-05

Shoe company Nike is under scrutiny after basketball star Zion Williamson's Nike shoe ripped apart during Wednesday night's Duke vs. University of North Carolina men's basketball game.

Video of Williamson's injury was played, over and over, on sports shows around the country Thursday.

The freshman star, who's expected to be the top overall pick in this summer's NBA Draft, planted his left foot before video shows his left shoe ripping apart and his foot sliding laterally across the wood floor.

Chris Geiser, Clinical Associate Professor and Program Director of Athletic Training at Marquette, compared the injury to something commonly seen in Wisconsin: someone slipping on an icy sidewalk or driveway.

"In that situation, your body weight is pushing down, it transfers to the other leg which is not ready to accept that weight, and that's where the injuries occur," Geiser said.

Geiser said it would take significant force to rip through a basketball shoe.

"Either there's a small defect in the shoe, or he's a really strong guy," Geiser said.

Jennifer Earl-Boehm, an Associate Professor and Athletic Training Education Program Director at UW-Milwaukee, noted basketball shoes aren't commonly required to handle the type of motion that Williamson's left leg generated Wednesday night.

"The shoe slid apart in kind of a side-to-side direction," Earl-Boehm said. "Shoes really aren't built to be used that way. They're made to handle forces of forward and backward, or jumping and landing."

Nike issued the following statement after Williamson's injury:

"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."

Earl-Boehm said she's not sure the injury should be blamed on the shoe company.

"In my opinion, it was more of a freak accident," she said.

"Unless there's a real trend with that happening multiple times in Nike shoes, I wouldn't be too concerned about the brand," Earl-Boehm said.

Basketball players on the court at the Wisconsin Athletic Club in Wauwatosa expressed similar views.

Gareth Bloomfield was wearing Nike shoes and playing in a game of 3-on-3.

"It's terrible to have that injury happen (to Williamson)," he said. "Especially before he goes to the NBA."

"Would you have any second thoughts about playing in Nikes now?" asked TODAY'S TMJ4.

"No. I've never had a problem with my Nikes," Bloomfield said. "I enjoy them. They're a good shoe. I just think (Williamson was going fast and he's a big guy - a heavy guy - so he can just break out of his shoe."