DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson left the court and left the home crowd stunned for only 36 seconds in the biggest game of the season, a visit from rival North Carolina on Wednesday night.
The freshman forward suffered a knee injury after what appeared to be a malfunction with his left Nike basketball shoe. The shoe seemed to be apart, causing his legs to buckle. He was immediately removed the shoes and was favoring his right leg as he exited the court with a Duke staff member.
After several minutes on the bench having that knee examined by the team doctor, Williamson went to the locker room.
Former President Barack Obama, sitting along the baseline near the Duke bench, shouted out encouragement to Williamson as he left the court.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Duke officials announced that Williamson would not return to the game, describing the injury only as his "knee."
Williamson was wearing the Nike PG 2.5, Thunder star Paul George's signature shoe from the fall, in a Duke exclusive colorway. Messages to Nike were not immediately returned.
Williamson, ACC's second-best scorer at 22.4 points per The game has established itself as the most exciting player in college basketball with its array of dunks and once-in-a-generation athleticism.
The Associated Press has contributed to this report.