Zion Williamson, Duke, Nike, and the NCAA all narrowly avoided a major disaster.
UNC – Duke. It’s a rivalry that goes back 100 years and seems to get grittier and grittier with each battle. With North Carolina ranked 8th and Duke leading the country at number 1, last night was supposed to be an especially epic matchup. The game aired nationally on ESPN, while the NBA was out of action. Ticket prices soared over $2,000 for the nose bleeds. Even President Barack Obama was in attendance! (Where was Michelle though?).
And then, this happened:
You saw that right. In the first two minutes of the most anticipated college matchup of the season, top prospect Zion Williamson planted his Nike PG 2.5 sneaker, which then literally exploded. On national television. With the damn PRESIDENT in the house.
As the injury occurred, many feared that Williamson had suffered a career-threatening injury like a torn ACL. Thankfully, during the postgame press conference, coach Mike Krzyzewski announced that Zion was diagnosed with only a mild knee sprain and is listed as day-to-day.
Despite the minor severity of his injury, the event stirred up major dialogue on social media. NBA stars, sports commentators, and NCAA haters alike offered their advice to Williamson and their opinions on the current state of college hoops.
Let these kids go straight out of HS!!! Too much on the line to be messing with college if you got a legit chance to turn pro. One injury can change somebody career, Zion sit yo ass down lol and we will be ready for you in the big boy league #LookingOutForThePlayers— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) February 21, 2019
DeMarcus Cousins of the Golden State Warriors shared a similar sentiment. In a recent interview, Boogie said, “Well, knowing what I know now, college is bulls**t. College basketball and the NCAA is bulls**t. So, my advice to him is do what's best for you and your family.”
Following the ugly looking injury, the NBA took action by proposing a new rule to lower the draft eligibility age from 19 to 18.
Although a shoe exploding is a bad look for Nike, every company experiences a few high profile product failures. The Oregon based multinational is bigger than one shoe.
But this is an especially bad look for the NCAA.
My take on everything, in case you were wondering, is that the profit machine that is the NCAA is bloated and corrupt. College basketball is certainly tons of fun (unless you’re an Indiana Hoosiers fan like me), but these guys live on ramen noodles and practice at all hours of the day for no pay whatsoever (unless you ask the NCAA, in which case they will tell you they are compensated in education.)
A scholarship is a start, but if an organization is going to profit off of its own players, it needs to compensate them in cold hard cash or at least allow them to sell their own merchandise and likeness without punishment. Otherwise, situations just like this lead to major backlash from the sports and college communities. Zion Williamson, the nation’s top prospect who will almost certainly make tens of millions of dollars in his NBA career, almost lost everything in a freak accident during a college game. The NCAA better not be wondering why it’s so publicly despised. The reasoning is obvious.
What do you guys think about everything? Should the NCAA be paying its players? Is Nike’s reign as the go-to shoe coming to an end? Let us know in the comments.
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