Zion Rescues February As Nike Ponders a New Campaign Slogan

Internet nearly blows up after Duke Star Zion Williamson blows a shoe against North Carolina

We all, jaws agape, saw it unfold on live television.

A man tried to make a left-hand turn on a Southern track and blew a tire. A huge chunk of rubber broke free of its casing and sent up caution flags as talking heads on cable offered cost-benefit analysis as a title sponsor ran for cover.

Product safety was called into question and investigations are sure to follow.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one one-the-scene observer noted.

Sweat shop workers in Vietnam were told they should expect to “sweat more” as command central put out a press release saying it would (literally) get to the bottom of bottom of this story.

This world-famous company has, for years, slapped its logo on the side of merchandise in the form of advertising.

Last Sunday, car, outdoors, at Daytona?

No, Wednesday night, player, indoors, at Cameron.

North Carolina at Duke, as a news story, lapped everything that happened last weekend on a racetrack.

Duke freshman star Zion Williamson, 36 seconds into the biggest rivalry-game in college basketball, came out of his left shoe near the free-throw line. He was driving a PG (Paul George), Duke blue, 2.5 model.

It wasn’t just any shoe…it was a NIKE.

Williamson clutched his right knee and missed the rest of the game, leaving Duke with only two, top-five future NBA picks in the starting lineup.

No way Coach K’s “kids” could hold up under that kind of uncertainty as they wilted their way to a double-digit loss. It was only the second time in AP history that a No.1 team had suffered two losses on its home court.

The best coach in college basketball, obviously, could not overcome the loss of the best player.

Duke, after Zion went down, played just like his sneaker--it came apart at the seams.

“His shoe broke,” former President Barack Obama could be seen mouthing from his court side seat.

So did social media, which used Zion’s injury as a leftist and alt-right clarion call to arms against the NCAA, one-and-done, socialism, fascism, the NBA, slave labor and shoe companies that pay college coaches and schools huge money but offer players nothing but the honor to wear sneakers that sometimes fall apart.

The big winner was February, for so long the Gary, Indiana, of sporting months. The story of Zion should win multiple ESPYs while his left shoe has already been Emmy-nominated as best actor in a non-supporting sole.

Zion’s equipment failure rescued Sports February from last Saturday’s mechanical breakdown at Stanford, where a broken rim seriously delayed the start of the second half against UCLA.

The issue, we hear, was UCLA arguing to call off, not only the rest of the game, but the rest of the season.

A Go-Fund-Me page was immediately launched to help Stanford raise money to support its flagging athletics department.

The Story of Zion also saved February (and me) from having to invest any more sweat equity into NBA All-Star Weekend, Manny Machado, pitchers and catchers reporting, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and wondering how many young Lakers are eventually going to be traded for Anthony Davis.

If not for breaking Zion news this column might have delved further into CBS coverage of last week’s weather-beaten Genesis Open at Riviera, where the big story became how early golfers had to get up because of all the rain delays.

Tiger Woods told CBS he would likely set his alarm for 2 a.m. on Sunday to prepare for a long, long day of golf.

Look, golf may be the hardest sport in the world and I have nothing but admiration for the pros but getting up early to play golf in Los Angeles is probably not going to resonate with millions who, 50 weeks a year, clog the 405 Freeway before dawn.

Other big winners in the Zion affair include ESPN and any shoe company not named Nike.

Adidas has already offered its rival, free of charge, a new campaign slogan suggestion.


Thank goodness Williamson suffered only a minor knee sprain and is expected to be back in the lineup, playing free for Duke and Nike, in the very near future.

There is nothing wrong with vigorous discussion over players like Zion risking their futures to line the trophy cases of their millionaire head coaches.

Let’s just make sure we get our facts straight. The “one-and-done” rule may be dumb, unfair and unconstitutional and it is reasonable to think players like Zion Williamson should be allowed to jump straight from high school to the pros.

Blame the NCAA for a lot of things--but not for this. No wonder it hired Condi Rice to lead an unnecessary exoneration commission to determine that the “one-and-done” rule needs to be abolished in college.

Of course, Rice and Co. also pontificated what we already knew. It is not up to the NCAA to change this rule. It is up to the NBA and its Players Association, through collective bargaining.

That’s right…good old Woody Guthrie socialism.

NBA players are lock-solid union activists so long as they don’t have to stand in picket lines with teachers or iron workers.

So, anyway, thank you Zion for saving no-news, bad news sports February and especially for not getting injured too seriously.

The world wants you to entertain it through next month’s NCAA Tournament. Just don’t forget to tighten up the laces on your new retreads.

We hope that a positive injury prognosis helped you sleep comfortably into Thursday morning.

We know you slept better than Nike.