Everybody loves a good comeback story. This weekend, Duke, Nike and Zion Williamson are celebrating theirs.
On Selection Sunday, the Blue Devils and their star player took the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament bracket. ACC rival teams UNC and Virginia also nabbed No. 1 seeds, and Gonzaga captured the fourth top spot. (Nike sponsors all the schools.)
It was just three days ago that Duke’s Williamson returned to the court following a dramatic injury in February when his Swoosh shoe blew out during the opening minutes of a high stakes game against UNC. The Tar Heels handily won that game, and their next contest against Duke last weekend when Williamson was still on the sidelines.
Duke’s freshman phenom made his big return on Thursday when he hit the ACC Tournament court in Charlotte wearing custom Kyrie 4s rather than the PG 2.5s he had been sporting during the mishap. Nike officials had flown to Durham, N.C., Duke’s home, in the days following the incident and then visited a Chinese factory to ensure that the new shoes were the best fit for Williamson.
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The freshman, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, wowed the crowd with his impressive play against Syracuse. Duke emerged victorious on Thursday, beat UNC on Friday evening and won the ACC tournament on Saturday night against Florida State.
“We’re thrilled to see Zion returning to the court. After working closely with the Duke basketball team to examine the issue, we are confident this was an isolated incident,” said Nike in a statement this week. “We continue to work with Duke, and all of our partner programs, to ensure we are providing the best product for their athletes.”