Zion Williamson: Hotly-tipped basketball player’s trainers explode as Obama watches

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A university basketball player who is hotly tipped to be the next LeBron James has suffered a freak injury after his Nike trainers exploded 33 seconds into a match.

Celebrities including Hollywood director Spike Lee and former US president Barack Obama turned out to see 18-year-old Zion Williamson play, but he was forced off with a knee injury after his shoe split in half as he planted his foot.

Tickets for the playoff between Williamson’s Duke University and North Carolina were reportedly available for $3,000 (£2,290), largely thanks to the the young athlete’s talent.

He was described by double NBA champion Kevin Durant as a “once-in-a-generation athlete”.

Mr Obama was seen pointing from the sidelines and saying “his shoe broke” during the incident and later tweeted to wish the player a “speedy recovery”, describing him as an “outstanding young man”.

LA Lakers star LeBron James joined the former president in wishing Williamson well after the injury.

Nike has since released a statement saying it is “concerned” and would be investigating what caused the shoes to fall apart.

“The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue,” it said.

The company supplies uniforms, shoes and clothing to the university.

Williamson’s side had been on a nine-match winning streak, but lost 88-72 without their star player.

“Obviously, you lose a national player of the year candidate, there are going to be gaps in what you have to do,” said coach Mike Krzyzewski.

He added the player had suffered a mild sprain, but he didn’t know how long it would be until he can play again.

Last year, ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Forbes the teenage could “make $1bn playing basketball effortlessly”.

(c) Sky News 2019: Zion Williamson: Hotly-tipped basketball player’s trainers explode as Obama watches

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