Zion Williamson, the consensus top-ranked player for the NBA Draft, suffered a grade 1 sprain to his right knee in Duke's loss to North Carolina last Wednesday. Williamson is listed "day-to-day" and notable personalities have begun questioning the wisdom of Zion playing again for Duke in this year's NCAA tournament.
The Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels faced off Wednesday night in one of the most highly anticipated match-ups in college basketball. In what many assumed to be a preview of a March Madness clash between two of the best collegiate basketball teams in the US, Zion Williamson's Nike PG 2.5 shoe burst open and the Blue Devil star appeared to have suffered an ankle or a knee injury in the very first play of the game.
Zion Williamson was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right knee sprain. He is progressing as expected and his status is day-to-day, @DukeMBB announced Thursday. pic.twitter.com/b8y1LdDewi — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2019
Williamson didn't return to the game. After a medical evaluation, it was revealed that the Blue Devil freshman suffered a grade 1 sprain to his right knee. Duke head coach, the Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski, said in an interview that the team has no timetable for Zion's recovery.
Zion has drawn a lot of praise from the current crop of NBA superstars. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry are just a few NBA superstars who have been wowed by Williamson's athleticism and overall game. But Zion's recent injury led NBA players and other media personalities to question the NCAA's policies. Before being injured, notable personalities have already suggested that Zion Williamson should just sit out the rest of the NCAA tournament and prepare for the NBA Draft.
"College basketball, the NCAA, is bulls---." –DeMarcus Cousins on Zion's situation pic.twitter.com/ER8i4S0oOF — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2019
Support came pouring for Zion Williamson after news of his injury broke out. Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder said he already spoke with Nike and discussed what went wrong with Zion's PG 2.5s. The Nike PG 2.5 is Paul George's signature shoes.
Paul George said he spoke with Nike about what went wrong with Zion's PG2.5s last night.
PG also reached out to Coach K today to check on Zion. (via @royceyoung) pic.twitter.com/m41WAVhfNh — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2019
The 18-year-old sensation has drawn comparisons to former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson for his physique. His skills, however, may eclipse Barkley's and Johnson's in the future (if he hasn't already). Williamson is a power forward who can play the center position if his team is running a small ball system.
Zion Williamson seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player. Wishing him a speedy recovery. — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 21, 2019
Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew thru his . — LeBron James (@KingJames) February 21, 2019
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Nike's shoe stock took a minor hit in trading because of the Zion Williamson injury. While casual basketball fans blame the Nike PG 2.5 shoes for Zion Williamson's injuries, footwear experts declared that the Williamson may have been actually saved from a more serious injury when his shoe broke down. Kevin Ford, a biomechanics professor at the High Point University, said that Zion's knee would have absorbed around 1,500 pounds of force had his shoe stayed intact.
Injuries are part of any sports. There's always a risk that one can get hurt whenever an athlete goes out there and compete in any contact sport. For Zion Williamson to go down the way he did last Wednesday just proves that it could happen to anyone. Whether you are the top-ranked college player or a casual baller, these things happen.
It's just a question of weighing the risks, a question of whether the college athlete can take more risk when he is presumably headed for greatness in the professional ranks. And in Zion Williamson's case, he has already proven that he can dominate the collegiate level. It's time to take his talents to the next level.