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Down Goes Zion: The Case of the Blown Out Sneaker

Zion Williamson blew out his PG2.5’s and everyone has lost their damn minds. Here’s why it’s not really that big of a deal.

Zion Williamson by Keenan Hairston is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Down Goes Zion: The Case of the Blown Out Sneaker


Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Wednesday night UNC played Duke in Men’s College Basketball. It’s one of the most storied rivalries in college hoops, and both teams are excellent this season (most seasons). This year Duke has the top 3 recruits as Freshman, including human highlight reel and future No. 1 Draft Pick Zion Williamson. Needless to say, this was a big game. So big, President Barack Obama was in attendance (looking fly as hell in a custom Rag & Bone bomber I might add). UNC wound up beating Duke 88-72, an upset with a margin few saw coming. But that wasn’t the biggest story of the night, or the reason for this article.

Zion Williamson blew out his Nikes and sprained his knee.

And everyone else has lost their damn minds.

Nike’s stock fell 1.7% on Thursday after the incident, which is roughly $1.1bn. That’s insanity. And it’s a complete overreaction.

Should Zion’s shoe have fallen apart like it did? Of course not. Is it entirely surprising? Not at all.

First, let’s talk about the model on Nike that Zion was wearing. The Nike PG 2.5 is one of the most inexpensive basketball performance sneakers, and in fact, their cheapest signature model shoe. Designed specifically for Paul George, the shoe has been tailored to the style of play of the OKC forward, and not necessarily 285 human tank Zion Williamson.

Zion has been touted for his once in a generation combination of size and skill, but that combination exerts a LOT of energy. Mostly, through the feet. It’s important to note that the upper of Zion’s shoe didn’t break, it was the Phylon midsole that blew out. Phylon is a popular foam material used by many sneaker companies. Phylon, like all foam midsole, degrades over time and with use. If you look at pictures of Zion’s shoe, it appears to be already worn, most likely in other games. So, it’s not like a brand new out of the box shoe just crumbled under Zion’s feet.

Duke is a Nike school.

Therefore all of its athletes are required to wear Nike sneakers. But they aren’t required to wear specific models. Zion has been seen wearing numerous models throughout the season, including the auto-lacing Adapt BB, Kyrie 5’s, LeBron 16’s and others. By far, the PG2.5 he played in against UNC is the cheapest option we’ve seen on his feet. And the full force jump cut he was doing when it blew was just too much for the lesser materials of the model. Especially since they were previously worn down.

Look, sneaker blow-outs happen all the time. They are commonly referred to as flat tires. NBA players who play in vintage and hyped up retro sneakers (looking at you PJ Tucker) have this happen frequently. Typically, they don’t result in injury, and they rarely happen in a game where everyone, including former Presidents, are watching. This is an extremely unfortunate accident, but ultimately Zion will be fine. And if his draft stock falls below 16th due to the injury he sustained (highly unlikely), then an $8 million dollar insurance policy kicks in.

All this to say:

Chill out y’all. It’s not that big of a deal. Zion, and Nike, will both be fine.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm is a professional Sound Engineer/Designer, and amateur photographer, writer, musician who recently relocated from California to Rochester, NY. Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit has made Andrew an avid fan of all things Detroit but nothing more so than his beloved Detroit Tigers. Every year he tells himself he won't drink the Lions Kool-Aid, and every year winds up heartbroken come January. A Spartan by heart, and a Golden Grizzly by degree, you can catch his (almost) weekly Hot Takes every Hump Day here at The Turf.

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