Nike, the globally famed big brand for premium shoes, sports gear, and athletic apparel is facing the backlash from an innocuous shoe-burst.

Sneakers of the popular basketball player that exploded midway in a game and punctured the giant’s brand image and the stock tumbled more than one percent.

The incident took place in a keenly watched game starring the most promising 18-year old Zion Williamson. It is reported that last-minute tickets of the game were sold for a whopping $3,000 matching the Super Bowl tickets.

Watching the incident was former President Barack Obama. Clips of Williamson breaking the sneaker and Obama pointing to it are viral now.

Williamson's Nike PG2.5 shoe-burst in the early minutes when the Duke team clashed with rival North Carolina and the star player erupted for making a cut.

The gaping hole in the shoe made the forward leap awkwardly on the ground and that hurt his knee.

Damage control by Nike

Nike started a damage control exercise over the Williamson’s sneaker snafu saying it is an “isolated occurrence.”  

Nike is the exclusive supplier of uniforms, shoes, and gear for Duke's basketball team.

“The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance,” the company’s statement said.

Matt Powell, an analyst at NPD Group said the incident is embarrassing for Nike, but it will have no material impact on its business.

Patrick Rishe, the sports business director at Washington University called it a “freak accident.”

“Nike is a massive brand and has tremendous power,” he said. “If they're smart, they'll reach out to Zion and have him wear their shoes again,” he quipped.

The statement reflects the analysts’ thinking that a major fall out is unlikely for the brand.

Nike has no hard history of major malfunctions for its products except some NBA jersey ruptures in 2017.

Already Nike is scaling down its dependence on high-top basketball sneakers with the focus moving to lightweight running and wear-to-work shoes.

According to Powell, basketball shoes are no longer in fashion and the new trend is “athleisure footwear.”   GettyImages Nike Shoes Thierry Henry of Arsenal tries out the new Nike trainers with a slam dunk at the launch of the new Nike Shox training shoes at the Dolphin Square Hotel, London. The incident of an untimely sneaker burst of Duke’s star player Zion Williamson has hit the Nike brand and its stock crashed. Photo: Tom Shaw/ALLSPORT

Social media reaction

The social media mostly faulted Nike for the incident. While some predicted panic at Nike’s headquarters, a section imagined an impending windfall for Nike's rivals including Adidas and Under Armour.

Pumas tweeted and deleted the tweet later. It said,   “It wouldn't have happened in the pumas.”

NBA player Paul George, who lent his name to the line of sneakers said he spoke to Nike management to see what went wrong.

“ It hasn't happened to me as long as I've been in this shoe,” George said.

Customers in New York City also do not see any wrong in the shoemaker.

“I've seen players break through shoes occasionally, but it's like once in a lifetime for everyone,” commented a customer named Ben Leive in  New York.