Basketball: College star Zion Williamson injured when Nike shoe explodes

If you're a reputable sports shoe manufacturer, this is not the kind of publicity you need…

American college basketball's biggest name Zion Williamson, regarded by most as a lock for the NBA's top draft spot later this year, has left his team's latest game injured, after his sneaker totally disintegrated 36 seconds after tip-off.

Williamson, 18, limped off the court and never returned. He was diagnosed with a "mild knee strain", but his top-ranked Duke University side lost 88-72 to rivals North Carolina and slipped in favouritism for the college title next month.

Duke Blue Devils have a lucrative apparel contract with Nike, who once ran an advertising campaign based on the phrase, "It's gotta be the shoes".

Former US President Barack Obama, sitting behind the Duke bench, was clearly seen pointing out the fact that "the shoe broke".

As always, social media pounced and was scathing.

Rivals Puma reportedly tweeted - then deleted - "Wouldn't have happened in the pumas".

Nike executives will be holding their breath that the next biggest name in basketball will still wear their products.

Expect that press release any time now.