Nike and Zion Williamson

Nike’s shareprice took a hit earlier this week when basketballer Zion Williamson had his Nike shoe blow out in a game. He suffered a sprain. Nike quickly went into damage control mode. Via CNN:

Nike is playing damage control after Duke basketball phenom Zion Williamson tore his sneaker in a game Wednesday evening.

Nike’s (NKE) stock was down more than 1% on Thursday. Nike builds its reputation around creating premier shoes and clothes for athletes, but that image took a hit with Williamson’s sneaker snafu. Analysts attributed the stock move to Williamson, the presumptive top pick in this year’s NBA draft and the hottest prospect since LeBron James entered the draft from high school more than a decade ago. Within the first minute of Duke’s blockbuster matchup against rival North Carolina on Wednesday, one of Williamson’s Nike PG2.5 shoes split apart.

Williamson left the game with a knee injury. Former President Barack Obama was sitting courtside, and clips of Williamson breaking his shoe and Obama pointing to it immediately went viral. Nike, which exclusively supplies Duke’s basketball team with uniforms, shoes and gear, quickly released a statement.

“The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance,” the company said. “While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.” Endorsement deals with star athletes, including LeBron James and Serena Williams, and sponsorships with pro sports leagues and top college basketball and football teams are a crucial part of Nike’s growth strategy.

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