It was less than one minute into a game between Duke University and University of North Carolina, when a rising star, Zion Williamson fell and suffered a knee-sprain injury. Williamson, a Duke freshman, was wearing a Nike PG 2.5 basketball shoe when it split apart during the first few seconds of the game.
The packed stadium included former President Barack Obama, who could be seen in the crowd, pointing and saying that, “His shoe broke.”
Williamson did not return to play for the rest of the game, which resulted in a North Carolina win, 88-72. The shoe malfunction also caused Nike’s shares to drop about 2 percent at $83.40 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. However, the company’s sportswear shares rose the following the Friday.
The slip may have impacted whether Williamson will still sign with Nike as he still remains a significant potential sneaker endorser. In addition to Nike, companies such as Adidas and Puma are expected to bid for Williamson.
This fall may result in a lawsuit, but it depends on Duke’s contracts with the company. Nike has contracts with various university coaches and the university, itself, such as Duke and North Carolina. These contracts allow for an influx of revenue and merchandise over the course of a certain period of time to a university and depending, separately, to its coaches, according to The New York Times. For example, Roy Williams, North Carolina coach signed a personal contract in which he would receive about $300,000 a year over the life of the 10-year agreement, according to the Times. Nike also drafts contracts in which the company will not liable for injuries suffered by athletes wearing its products, but it is unclear whether Duke has signed this contract or not.