The Duke Blue Devil’s star freshman and potential NBA 2019 number one pick, Zion Williamson, attempted a pivot move 34 seconds into February 18’s game against North Carolina. His 6 foot 7 inch tall frame stopped short and his Nike Paul George 2.5 basketball shoe seams popped, straining his knee. Williamson’s simple cut move, standard in basketball, quickly impacted the massive sports giant. Overnight, Nike stocks dropped almost 2%, in a 1.2 billion dollar loss.
Nike, a colossal, worldwide brand, has expressed sincere embarrassment for the equipment failure. With their highly publicized main objective being player safety, a blown shoe injuring a potential multi-million dollar athlete hit the company hard. According to cnn.com, Nike released a statement concerning the incident:
“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.”
Nike addressed concerns about social media in their 2018 annual report spoke saying, “social media, which accelerates and potentially amplifies the scope of negative publicity, can increase the challenges of responding to negative claims.” Their foreshadowing proved true, as pictures of Williamson grabbing at his broken shoe and a clip of Barack Obama sitting court side quickly went viral, with the former President pointing at Williamson and clearly saying “his shoe broke.”
Social media quickly capitalized on Williamson’s unfortunate event, including The Onion taking a jab at the Nike factories rumored to employ young children.
As an international, billion dollar company, Nike is expected to recover in the long term from the embarrassing shoe snafu. Williamson, however, is now facing the decision on whether to rehab and play (for free) for Duke or sit out the remainder of the season and wait for the NBA draft. It’ll be interesting to see how Nike’s marketing department plays this, whether it’s asking Williamson to wear Nikes again or to make a pubic push for safe equipment.