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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Basketball

Competition pounces on Nike after Zion Williamson’s shoe breaks

Zion Williamson shoe

Nike’s worst nightmare occurred on Wednesday night.

In the first minute of the high-profile Duke-North Carolina game, Blue Devils star Zion Williamson exited with an injury after his shoe broke. Williamson was wearing the Nike PG 2.5 PE, and the shoe literally fell apart, resulting in a knee injury.

This is the biggest stage in college basketball and the biggest star in the sport, and to have the equipment fall apart and cause an injury could not have been a worse turn of events for the Swoosh. Instantly, people pounced.

Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier said Williamson/Duke should join Puma, a new brand in the basketball shoe market.

Puma joined in as well before later deleting their tweet.

Others on social media instantly knew what the injury and shoe failure meant for Nike and its competitors.

We’re not about to say Nike’s stock price is going to fall on Thursday, but this really couldn’t be worse for them.

Williamson was soon ruled out for the rest of the game due to his knee, raising questions about his future at Duke, and whether he might actually follow Scottie Pippen’s advice.

Kyrie Irving explains why he sought phone call with LeBron James

Kyrie Irving

It came as a surprise to many that Kyrie Irving called former teammate LeBron James to hash out some issues that led to their separation, and Irving is now clarifying why it happened.

Irving felt he failed to address his conflicts with James while they played together with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and felt that he needed to apologize in order to move forward with his life and career.

“Well, I think that, you know, it takes a very, very strong individual to replay a lot of the experiences that you’ve had,” Irving told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “A lot of anger that you’ve had built up, where you didn’t address the situation and you allowed it to fester. And then it was just combustion. It came out and it just … you realize, like, ‘Hey, man, I didn’t have to deal with that the same way I dealt with that. I didn’t have to go about it that same way.’ Now, mind you, I have no regrets in terms of any decision I made, going about my individual journey and what I want and foresee for my career.

“But for me, it’s just … apologizing, yeah, that was a step for me, just to move forward in my life.”

Irving’s time as the leader of the Boston Celtics has given him an understanding of what it takes to lead a young team, and that inspired him to call James to apologize for his conduct as a younger player in Cleveland. Irving has clearly had some growing pains adjusting to the role, and it gave him some added context to what happened with the Cavaliers.

LeBron James says he is improving physically

LeBron James

LeBron James is facing a struggle to get the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs, but he thinks he’s getting where he needs to be physically.

James missed nearly all of January with a nagging groin injury, but he has returned to regular action in February. The Lakers have managed him carefully, but he says he’s getting very close to where he wants to be physically, and is already “activated” mentally.

There had been some chatter that the Lakers had concerns about the state of James’s groin. He doesn’t seem to share them. The team managed him cautiously at first, but it’s a safe bet that James is eager to play every game going forward, and play it as close to full strength as possible.

Joel Embiid to miss time while dealing with knee soreness

Joel Embiid 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid had some issues with his knee earlier this season that forced him to miss time, and it sounds like the same problem has popped up again.

The Sixers announced on Wednesday that Embiid will not be on the floor when the team resumes play after the All-Star break, as he is experiencing soreness in his left knee and will undergo treatment before being evaluated in a week.

Embiid played 23 minutes in the All-Star Game on Sunday night, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The good news is that he underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage, according to the team.

The 76ers have always played it safe with Embiid when it comes to injuries, and that has been a source of frustration for him in the past. Philly is currently fifth in the Eastern Conference and preparing for another playoff run, so it makes sense that they want to be sure Embiid is 100 percent healthy down the stretch.

Kyrie Irving: Celtics players feel like we are capable of more

Kyrie Irving

The Boston Celtics went through inconsistent stretches of play heading into the All-Star break, and Kyrie Irving made headlines at one point for criticizing his younger teammates over it. While he has since apologized for not keeping his frustrations in-house, his opinion does not appear to have changed much.

In a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Irving was asked about Celtics forward Marcus Morris going off earlier this month about a lack of chemistry and not having fun like other teams.

“It’s been a trying year for us,” Irving said. “We basically have a lot of young men in our locker room who feel like they’re capable of doing a lot more than they’ve been doing. That’s OK, but there’s a maturity that you have to have. There’s a professionalism that you have to showcase every day. That’s what the great ones do.”

Irving then admitted that he was initially upset about not playing more minutes, noting how he has had a “natural competition” with Terry Rozier after Rozier helped carry the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year.

There has been a lot of talk about Irving potentially going back on his promise to re-sign with Boston this summer, and his recent remarks about free agency sparked that paranoia among Celtics fans. Boston was expected to be by far the best team in the Eastern this season, but they are 37-21 and fourth in the conference. An early playoff exit would likely make Irving think long and hard about his future.

Gordon Hayward may miss time with ankle injury

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward has had a long road back from the gruesome ankle injury he suffered at the start of last season, so Boston Celtics fans aren’t going to like hearing that he is dealing with another injury to the same body part. However, there is not cause for panic just yet.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand Show” Wednesday that Hayward is questionable to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night after twisting his ankle in a workout.

The important detail there is that Hayward tweaked his right ankle. While any ankle injury is concerning for him after what happened in his first game as a Celtic, Hayward’s horrific fracture last year was to his left leg.

Hayward has clearly not been the same player he was pre-injury, as he is averaging just 11.2 points per game and has played mostly off the bench this season. Getting him back to full strength both physically and mentally will be key for Boston down the stretch, so hopefully the latest injury is not serious.

Watch: Gordon Hayward’s wife tells him to stop playing video game

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward had a funny exchange with his wife on a live video game stream on Monday.

Hayward was playing “Apex Legends” and could be heard asking his wife whether he had time for one more game. She said no.

In case you didn’t hear the end of the video, Hayward’s wife Robyn ended the clip with this line.

“I’m watching you play video games. How pathetic is my life?”

After receiving some negative feedback over the whole sequence, Robyn went on Instagram to clear things up. She said Gordon had a workout they had to leave for and that’s why she told him no more time. Then she also told folks to lighten up about her “pathetic” line.

Between this and their baby gender reveal video, the Hayward household continues to provide us with quality content.