Nike built Duke's Zion Williamson customized shoe before return: Report

Duke basketball star Zion Williamson returned to the court on Thursday night wearing a customized Nike sneaker, weeks after a viral incident in which he suffered a knee injury when his shoe exploded less than one minute into a game.

In the days after the incident, the apparel giant met with Williamson and Duke head coach Krzyzewski to gather information on what happened, and then flew to China to develop a customized version of its “Kyrie 4” sneaker model specifically for the freshman, ESPN reported. The modified sneaker had more padding than the original.

"We're thrilled to see Zion returning to the court,” Nike said in a statement. “After working closely with the Duke Basketball team to examine the issue, we are confident this was an isolated incident. We continue to work with Duke, and all of our partner programs, to ensure we are providing the best product for their athletes."

Nike drew widespread criticism last month after Williamson’s sneaker exploded when he attempted a sharp cut during a highly anticipated rivalry game with the North Carolina Tar Heels. He was forced to exit the game and missed several weeks with a knee sprain.


Williamson shot 13-of-13 from the field and scored 29 points during his return, leading Duke to an 84-72 win over Syracuse. He is widely expected to be the first player selected in the NBA Draft later this year.