Ahead of Zion Williamson's return last night, there were reports that the Duke big man would wear the Nike Kyrie 4 instead of the PG 2.5s he'd worn during the sneaker blowout seen 'round the world. Sure enough, Williamson did end up wearing the Kyrie 4, but it wasn't the standard version of the shoes found on retail shelves.
Instead, Nike reportedly sent a team of specialists down to Durham, North Carolina, to meet with Williamson the day after the mishap. Per Sports Illustrated's Jonathan Jones, Duke head coach Michael Krzyzewski said that Nike flew its “top people” to Duke, where they analyzed Zion's game and the way shoes performed under his 280-plus pound frame. They then took the findings to China where they oversaw the manufacturing of a more resilient and stable sneaker, which was the revamped Kyrie 4 worn by Williamson last night.
Coach K: Nike flew in their top people to Durham the day after the shoe blew out. Those people then flew to China to oversee the manufacturing of a stronger, more stable shoe. They came back to Duke a week later with the shoe.
The question many have on their minds heading into tip-off tonight, what sneaker is Williamson going to lace up? The Nike PG 2.5 is what he wore during the infamous debacle, so for all intents and purposes that one is probably not an option, if not purely for skepticism alone. For the few people who might be thinking Zion will abandon Nike altogether, that's also out of the question because the Duke Blue Devils are a Nike-sponsored program.
Williamson was also asked about his new sneakers during his post game press conference following Thursday night's contest. “The shoes were incredible this game,” Williamson told CBS's Kevin Skiver. The college phenom was also asked about the specific changes Nike made to the pair. “I couldn't really specifically tell you if I wanted to,” he said. “I just know they're a little stronger than the regular Kyrie 4's, so I want to thank Nike for making these, but, yeah, they felt very comfortable.”
So far, so good for Williamson's new sneakers, as the prospect shot a perfect 13-for-13 from the field with 29 points and an additional 14 rebounds. After dropping Syracuse last night, Zion and the Blue Devils will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels tomorrow for the rivalry game everyone's been waiting to see.
We react to Thursday nights games, where the Pacers proved theyre going to be a tough out in the playoffs and Luka Doncic started to look worn down by this season