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Watch the moment top NBA prospect Zion Williamson’s Nike sneaker rips apart

Freshman sensation Zion Williamson was knocked out of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry game with a knee sprain after his Nike shoe blew out during the top-ranked Blue Devils’ opening possession Wednesday night.

While describing the sprain as mild and the knee as stable, coach Mike Krzyzewski said he doesn’t know how much time Williamson will miss.

Williamson, the presumed top pick in June’s NBA Draft, grabbed his right knee in pain after slipping awkwardly and falling when his left shoe fell apart as he planted hard while dribbling near the free throw line. The blue rubber sole ripped loose from the white shoe from the heel to the toes along the outside edge, with Williamson’s foot coming all the way through the large gap.

Nike said in a statement that it was ‘concerned’ and wished Williamson a speedy recovery. It said it was ‘working to identify the issue.’

Tickets at the intimate, 9,134-seat Cameron Indoor Stadium were going for at least $2,500 ahead of Wednesday’s game. One fan paid as much as $10,000 on a re-ticketing website. 

Duke students, meanwhile, camped out for as long as 39 days in the open quad known as ‘Krzyzewskiville’ for tickets to see Williamson play for 33 seconds against the rival Tar Heels. 

 

Teenage prodigy Zion Williamson suffered a freak injury in college basketball on Wednesday

The 18-year-old sensation's left Nike trainer blew out after his foot tore through it

The 18-year-old sensation’s left Nike trainer blew out after his foot tore through it

He sprained his right knee after slipping awkwardly and falling as his trainer fell apart

He sprained his right knee after slipping awkwardly and falling as his trainer fell apart

The good news for Williamson is that he may have a backup plan. According to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the South Carolina native has an $8 million insurance policy, which likely cost in the range of $50,000, which the school is permitted to pay for. 

It’s not clear how much, if any, Williamson will be able to claim. 

Williamson, the ACC’s second-leading scorer at 22.4 points per game and arguably the most exciting player in college basketball, walked off with a slight limp but under his own power before heading back to the locker room with no shoes on his feet.

No. 8 North Carolina took advantage of Williamson’s absence to beat the Blue Devils 88-72.

‘I’d rather not talk about what we’re going to do,’ Krzyzewski said. ‘I’d rather talk about what just happened. Because we’re going to figure out what we’re going to do. So I don’t have that answer.’ 

Williamson received support from LeBron James and Barack Obama, the latter of whom was in attendance in Durham, where tickets were going for as much as $10,000 on Wednesday. 

‘Zion Williamson seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player,’ Obama wrote on Twitter. Wishing him a speedy recovery.’ 

Without mentioning Nike by name, James – who has endorsed the brand for years – tweeted at Williamson as well: ‘Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew thru his [sneaker emoji].’  

Without mentioning Nike by name, James - who endorses the brand - tweeted at Williamson

Without mentioning Nike by name, James – who endorses the brand – tweeted at Williamson

Williamson received support from LeBron James and Barack Obama, the latter of whom was in attendance in Durham, where tickets were going for as much as $10,000 on Wednesday

Williamson received support from LeBron James and Barack Obama, the latter of whom was in attendance in Durham, where tickets were going for as much as $10,000 on Wednesday

The parody accounts began popping up in the immediate aftermath of Williamson's injury 

The parody accounts began popping up in the immediate aftermath of Williamson’s injury 

Some students camped out as long as 39 days, leaving only to go to class, to get tickets to see Duke host rival North Carolina. Duke Students traditionally camp in an area near Cameron Indoor Stadium known as 'Krzyzewskiville' after the team's head coach 

Some students camped out as long as 39 days, leaving only to go to class, to get tickets to see Duke host rival North Carolina. Duke Students traditionally camp in an area near Cameron Indoor Stadium known as ‘Krzyzewskiville’ after the team’s head coach 

DUKE-UNC TICKET PRICES SOAR OVER ‘INTENSE DEMAND’ FOR WILLIAMSON  

One of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's four elite freshman recruits this season, Zion Williamson ranks second and first on the team with 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, respectively 

One of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s four elite freshman recruits this season, Zion Williamson ranks second and first on the team with 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, respectively 

Fans attending Wednesday’s game at Duke’s intimate, 9,314-seat Cameron Indoor Stadium spent at least $2,500 per seat, according to ESPN – and that was getting off easy. One ticket sold by Vivid Seats went for $10,652.

And while it’s always a hot ticket when the Blue Devils (23-3) and Tar Heels (21-5) meet, one seller told ESPN it’s specifically the 6foot8, 285-pound Williamson who caused prices to skyrocket.

‘As far as Duke this year, I haven’t seen anything like this,’ said Kyle Zorn, a marketing strategist for secondary ticket seller TickPick, per ESPN. ‘I would say LeBron James to the Lakers is the best comparison for this, just as far as a player having an impact.’

The cheapest tickets on StubHub late Tuesday afternoon were listed at $3,276 for an upper-level baseline seat. Fans who didn’t want to pay that much instead could have opted to buy a ticket for the March 9 rematch at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill for a comparative steal at $432 each. 

‘Between Zion Williamson, a No. 1 ranking and this being one of the biggest rivalries in sports, there’s intense demand,’ Zorn said 

Signs are seen in Krzyzewskiville, the area where Duke students camp for games

Signs are seen in Krzyzewskiville, the area where Duke students camp for games

Krzyzewski doesn’t have much time to find a replacement for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-leading scorer and its most dynamic playmaker.

The Blue Devils (23-3, 11-2) play Saturday night at Syracuse – which already knows how to beat a Duke team after it loses a key freshman to injury. The Orange beat No. 1 Duke last month in overtime after point guard Tre Jones injured a shoulder.

Williamson averages 22.4 points, but his impact goes well beyond scoring. He also grabs 9.2 rebounds and has blocked nearly two shots per game.

In his absence, North Carolina simply dominated the paint, outscoring the Blue Devils 62-28 there while also building a 46-41 rebounding advantage. The Tar Heels shot 51 percent – 57 percent in the second half – despite 2-for-20 shooting from 3-point range.

RJ Barrett matched a season best with 33 points, and teammate Cameron Reddish had a season-high 27 – but the rest of the team combined for just 12 points.

‘I hope he’s going to be OK,’ Barrett said of Williamson. ‘We don’t really know where things are right now.’

Apparently, neither does Williamson. And now, a month after the freshman star swatted away questions about the prudence of risking injury by playing – Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen had suggested he’d be better off shutting it down for the year – that debate is sure to be reignited.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who played in college at Louisville, said on Twitter that ‘something has to change’ in the wake of the injury.

‘Again let’s remember all the money that went into this game…. and these players get none of it…. and now Zion gets hurt,’ he tweeted.

Williamson grabbed his right knee in pain after slipping awkwardly and falling when his left shoe fell apart as he planted hard while dribbling near the free throw line. The blue rubber sole ripped loose from the white shoe from the heel to the toes along the outside edge, with Williamson’s foot coming all the way through the large gap.

He walked off with a slight limp, but under his own power, before heading to the locker room with no shoes on his feet.

Nike said in a statement that it was ‘concerned’ and wished Williamson a speedy recovery. It said it was ‘working to identify the issue.’

Obama – who watched the game from a baseline seat near the Duke bench – said on Twitter that Williamson ‘seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player. Wishing him a speedy recovery.’

So are the Blue Devils.



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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