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Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout may have helped Nike sign him to shoe deal

North Carolina v Duke

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 20: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after falling as his shoe breaks against Luke Maye #32 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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Zion Williamson famously blew out his Paul George signature shoes at Duke last year. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie and No. 1 overall pick blasted through a pair of shoes in a game against UNC back in February, injuring his knee.

This caused a panic throughout the basketball world, both collegiate and in the NBA. Folks at Nike were also no doubt called into action, scrambling to find a reason why the shoe didn’t support Williamson.

Naturally, rumors swirled. Was it because the shoes were old? Had Williamson worn through them? Did this specific pair have a manufacturing defect?

Many also wondered whether this would hurt Nike’s chance to sign Williamson to a shoe deal once he left Duke. Of course, we now know that Williamson is a part of Nike and a Jordan Brand athlete, apparently turning down larger offers from Puma and Li-Ning.

According to ESPN, the blowout may have played a part in the Oregon-based company signing the youngster. The ‘shoexplosion’ allowed Nike to show off the resources it has at its disposal to Williamson.


Ironically, Williamson’s worst moment in a Nike sneaker turned out to be one of the best moments for the company. When his PG 2.5 fell apart 33 seconds into the nationally televised showdown with North Carolina, Nike was able to give Williamson an early firsthand look at those vast company-wide resources. They sprung into action to design a custom sneaker for the rest of his college career that would support the needs of Williamson’s unique blend of speed and power. The personal attention they were able to give him gave Williamson and his family a comfort level with Nike they might not have had otherwise.

That’s a pretty weird, backdoor way into getting a shot at convincing Williamson to sign with Nike. Still, it’s true that there’s an unlimited amount of possibilities open to Nike athletes, and that’s impressive to anyone.