Nike on defence after shoe explodes during big basketball game

Story by CBC Kids News • 2019-02-22 15:39

Star NBA prospect injured on live television

U.S. college basketball star Zion Williamson wasn’t the only one to sustain injuries when his shoe broke on live television Wednesday night.

The company that made the shoe — Nike — is hurting, too.

People who have money invested in Nike started selling off their shares — or the parts of the company they own — once they realized that Nike’s reputation had been hit.

What happened?

The game on Feb. 20 was supposed to be a big one.

Duke University’s Blue Devils were playing against their main rivals in the NCAA, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama was sitting courtside.

The game was being broadcast live on prime-time TV.

Williamson, who is widely expected to be the NBA’s top draft pick next season, was on the court.

Basketball player runs with ball as defensive players tries to block him.

Williamson logged only 33 seconds on the court Feb. 20 before his Nike shoe malfunctioned. (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Thirty-three seconds into the game, Williamson was dribbling the ball when the bottom of his left shoe appeared to pop right off.

Williamson fell to the ground, his Nike PG 2.5 flapping in the air as he went down.

In the end, team officials described his injury as a mild sprain to his right knee.

Williamson had to leave the court immediately and his team, the Blue Devils, ended up losing 88-72 without him.

Gif shows player falling as shoe breaks open

Nike responds

It got a bit cheaper to buy a piece of the Nike company the next day, as investors started to sell off their shares.

The negative headlines will likely hurt Nike for a bit, but probably not in the long term, said analyst Brian Nagel with investment firm OppenheimerFunds.

As for the health of the NCAA’s star player, Nike said in a statement: "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."

Close up of shoe with wide rip above the sole.

Look closely and it’s possible to see how Williamson’s Nike PG 2.5 split open during the Feb. 20 game in Durham, North Carolina. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Customers complaining

This isn’t the first time a Nike shoe has malfunctioned.

There was lots of hype with the Air Adapt BB launched in January 2019, mostly because it has no laces and the fit is adjusted using a smartphone app.

But people who use Android phones have been flooding Nike’s app store with complaints, saying the app doesn’t work for them.

Nike has apologized, saying it is “actively working on a solution” to that problem.

Shoe with no laces and Nike swoosh.

Some people with Android phones are complaining that the app that’s supposed to adjust the fit on their Nike Air Adapt BBs doesn’t work for them. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

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