Duke freshman Zion Williamson left last night’s marquee match-up between the Blue Devils and rival North Carolina just 36 seconds into the contest after a bizarre incident where he planted his foot so hard, he ripped through his Nike basketball shoe and hit the floor grabbing his knee in pain. The rubber sole ripped loose from the shoe along the outside edge, leading to Williamson’s foot coming through the shoe and him sliding and twisting his knee in an awkward fashion.
After that, Duke seemed lost on the court without their star player and Luke Maye took full advantage of the injury to put up 30 points and 15 rebounds as Duke was blown out by their rival 88-72. The Tar Heels outscored Duke in the paint 62-28.
Stars lined the crowd such as former President Barack Obama, Ken Griffey Jr. and Spike Lee.
“Obviously, you lose a national player of the year candidate,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “there are going to be gaps of what you have to do.”
“It was just a shock for us,” Duke forward Cameron Reddish said. “Obviously, we’re used to playing with him, so playing without him was very difficult. We missed him today.”
“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” Nike said in a statement. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”
Krzyzewski said the injury was a “mild knee sprain” but wasn’t sure how much time Williamson would miss. The debates have raged on since that opening minute of not only how serious the injury could potentially be, but whether or not Williamson should “shut it down” for the season and not try to come back and play for Duke. The rematch with North Carolina is scheduled for March 9 to end the regular season in Chapel Hill.
Many people are saying Williamson should rest and get healthy before the NBA Draft where he is looked at as the definite overall #1 draft pick. Meanwhile, others are saying he should come back and finish what he started due to the fact that he has to play a year in college with the current rules, and that it will help him stay physically fit.