Zion Williamson

USA Today

Zion's Injury

The ultimate buzzkill.

February 21, 2019 - 10:48 am

A MLB Hall of Famer. A potential pro football hall of famer. A legendary filmmaker. A famous actress. The guy or gal who paid 10 grand for a ticket. Even a former President. It felt like everyone was at Cameron Indoor last night. That was a scene. And they weren’t the ones people were there to see. Everyone was there to see an event. They were there to see the greatest college player since…whoever you think is the greatest college player ever. Whoever you pick and whatever you want to argue, Zion is probably that good. 

And they were there to see him play his school’s biggest rival at home for one time and one time only. And they didn’t get to see it. 

Because less than a minute into the game, this happened.

The knee injury slash sneaker blowout heard round the world. Seriously, that was sickening. A blown sneaker? That’s like driving the speed limit on an empty desert highway and suddenly a tire blows for no reason, and slams you into tree.

How the hell does that happen? I mean, I know how it happens. And it’s obviously insanely rare, but to have it happen in that moment, to that guy, on that stage, is pretty much the worst thing ever. Then again, if your immediate reaction was: Nike’s stock price is going to take a hit tomorrow morning, maybe take a moment before getting all Mad Money on it. 

Yes, it’s true, that was an awful look for them. That was the exact reverse of the Tiger Woods legendary chip at Augusta in 2005, where the swoosh sat on the lip of the cup for an eternity before dropping in. 

But yeah, watching that last night, my concern wasn’t for a billion dollar Shoe Company’s stock price, it was for Zion. And for everyone who loves the game. Because that looked awful.

It was a damn nightmare. I don’t care who you are or who you root for, seeing that sucked. The biggest Duke hater in the world has to look at that and say, damn. 

Who cares about the rest of the game after that? Yes, North Carolina won. And looked good doing it. They handed #1 Duke one of the worst home losses of Coach K’s career. But can you even remember the final score? It was 88-72, not that it matters. Because none of it mattered. 

And I’ll be the first to say that Duke isn’t a one-man team. That they have at least two other guys who are likely top 5 picks. And even without Zion, they are so talented, they shouldn’t get blown out like that at home. Then again, you lose the national player of the year in the first minute of a rivalry game, and lose him the way that you did, and that’s going to have an impact on the next 39 minutes. 

But really, who cares about that? From the moment he went down, the rest of the game didn’t matter. The score didn’t matter. Bragging rights. The number one spot in the polls. An ACC title.  Hell…even A national title. None of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was the diagnosis. 

The six letters that were being thrown around the most were: MRI and NBA. As in, would this MRI impact his future in the NBA? Should he declare for the NBA before the MRI or after the MRI? Should he bother playing another game for Duke?

And the early word is three great words: mild knee sprain. Which is great.  If so, they dodged a huge scud.

I mean, it already sucked. Literally. It sucked the life out of the game. It sucked the life out of his team. It damn near sucked the life out of life. That’s how exciting Zion is and to get the chance to see him play at home against UNC was going to be special. And it wasn’t. It was the ultimate buzzkill. 

And that doesn’t mean that Zion’s out of the woods yet. As Coach K said afterwards: “We’re very concerned about Zion. It’s a mild knee sprain. We will know about length of time tomorrow.”

And right now, that’s about the only thing that matters. Shoe companies, national titles, a referendum on college athletics, I’ll get to that in a moment, but let’s hold off. Because for a moment, it looked like we might have lost the best thing to happen to basketball in years. And that would’ve sucked. 

285-pound, hitting his head on the backboard, looking down at the rim, absurd shot-blocking Phenom’s don’t come around very often. Strike that, they don’t come around period. 

Think about all the highlights he’s provided in really just a handful of games. Seriously. We’re barely 3 ½ months into his career and he’s already put out some of the greatest moments in college basketball history. 

I don’t know if he’s the greatest player ever, but if he really has just a mild knee sprain, that’s the biggest sigh of relief ever