Duke University freshman Zion Williamson was just moments into his team’s nationally-televised game against North Carolina on Feb. 20 when he tried to make a cut and his shoe spontaneously exploded, leading to a fall that resulted in a knee sprain. He ended up limping off the court in pain and was unable to play the rest of the game. Luckily, the sprain was mild, and he should recover.
The dramatic moment was captured on camera and left many wondering how an athletic shoe could seemingly spontaneously fall apart. You can get a closer look at what happened in this clip of the incident from Inside Edition:
And here’s a close-up of his torn shoe after the incident:
Here you can see him grimace in pain shortly after his fall:
So have shoes exploded on the basketball court before? In the NBA, similar incidents are not all that uncommon, and unfortunately for Nike, players are often wearing shoes from the brand when this happens, as was Williamson when the injury occurred.
Check out the moment when Mark Gasol stepped on Blake Griffin’s shoe during a game in 2012, causing a hole in the latter’s sneaker.
For their part, Nike says the incident with Williamson was a fluke, and they are investingating the cause. The Nike PG2.5s, the shoes that Williamson was wearing at the time, are a popular choice popular among NBA players and everyday customers as well.
“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” the company 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.”
Of course, the aforementioned examples prove that what happened to Williamson’s is not a totally isolated incident. One reason they may be more common among professional basketball players, though, may be due to their sheer size and strength. As SB Nation points out, at 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, it may be difficult for Williamson to find a shoe that can support his frame. Still, there are reports of shoes exploding on people who aren’t professional athletes.
At the end of the day, while this is unlikely to happen to you, you can never be too careful. Take care when performing any exercise, and be sure to replace your shoes if they’re showing wear.