Shoe industry sources told ESPN’s Nick DePaula that there is an internal consensus at Nike that the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson is a force unlike any the company has seen before and will warrant his own custom-made shoes with added support and reinforcement once he’s a pro. Custom shoes for college players are rare, except in cases of an extreme size or fit situation. For example, Nike made UNC Asheville’s 7-foot-7 center Kenny George 12 custom pairs of a size 26 shoe.
Nike’s sneaker rivals, who are already pouncing on its sneaker snafu on Twitter, could seek to use the viral moment to convince Williamson — a top NBA draft pick — to wear their apparel instead of Nike’s once he turns pro, experts said. “Money is the most important consideration, along with your belief in the product — and that’s maybe not in Nike’s corner at the moment,” said sports lawyer Daniel Wallach.
“If he’s able to come back in the next game, or soon enough, then all of this goes away,” Wallach said. But if the injury was to prove more serious, then “this is a quintessential liability lawsuit,” Wallach said.
The NBA has submitted to the National Basketball Players Association a formal proposal that will lower the draft-eligible age to 18 from 19, a person with knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss discussions between the league and the union. The NBPA and its executive director, Michele Roberts, planned to review the proposal Monday at a post-All-Star weekend meeting in the Bahamas.
The league and union have had informal discussions about lowering the age limit, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver is on record saying the current 19-year-old age limit is not working for the league or college basketball. This is the first step in formal negotiations to lower the age limit by the 2022 draft. The issue is collectively bargained between the NBA and NBPA, and both sides need to agree to any rule change.