Zion Williamson wore Kyrie Irving model Nikes in his return, and Kyrie approves – The Boston Globe

Zion Williamson wore Kyrie Irving model Nikes in his return, and Kyrie approves - The Boston Globe
Zion rejoins Duke for tournament Thursday
Williamson returned on Thursday night to face Syracuse in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals. But Duke posted a picture on its social media accounts earlier in the day showing that Williamson had changed his footwear, shifting to the Nike Kyrie Irving 4s. The Celtics point guard, of course, spent one season at Duke before he was chosen with the first pick in the 2011 draft.

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.

Syracuse fell behind early 32-15 in Zion Williamsons return game, a matchup where the mythical Williamson didnt miss a single field goal attempt en route to 29 points and 14 rebounds.

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.

Last night should have been entirely about Zion Williamson coming back and playing brilliantly, for free, for a school and a coach to which he owes very little. Instead, ESPN and other joints used last night to provide free, needless closure to one of their biggest advertisers; manufacturing a happy ending for Nike despite the fact that their sneakers sometimes explode and sometimes crash. They went ahead and glossed over Nikes original transgression like the Times burying a vital correction on page Z87, and it wont be the last time they offer gratis damage control to a company that doesnt deserve any. Nothing they or Nike say should blunt your skepticism. Theyll all corrupt shitbags, always ready to aid one another in shitbaggery.

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.”

Now that Zion is back on the court and obviously healthy, the biggest sneaker subplot will be who he signs with after the season. A source told Yahoo earlier this year that hell easily make more than $5 million a season, an outlandish number for a rookie. Theres no other prospect in the same timezone of Williamsons marketability, which means all the major shoe companies will be bidding for him.

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

Posted in Irving