The NBA world called on Zion Williamson to sit out the rest of the college season after his freak injury reignited a debate over NCAA rules

  • Duke’s star basketball player Zion Williamson tore through his shoe and injured his knee in a game on Wednesday night.
  • While the severity of the injury is unclear, many in the NBA world said Williamson, the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, should sit out the rest of the college basketball season.
  • The injury reignited the debate over the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule and the NCAA not paying college athletes.

Duke’s star basketball player Zion Williamson suffered a freak injury in the opening minute of a highly anticipated game against North Carolina on Wednesday.

Williamson drove with the ball and tried to stop, and his right foot ripped through his shoe. As he slipped, his knee bent awkwardly. He left the game and did not return.

Read more:
Zion Williamson’s shoe exploded and he injured a knee in first minute against North Carolina

Early reports indicated that Williamson has a mild knee sprain and seems to have avoided a much worse injury.

Williamson is considered the consensus No. 1 prospect in this year’s NBA draft. A little over three months before he’s likely to enter the league and sign a lucrative rookie deal, his freak injury led many people, including NBA players, to argue that basketball players should be allowed to go straight to the NBA from high school.

Others argued that college athletes should be paid. The amateurism rule became a focus in the buildup to the game, as tickets were reportedly going for over $US3,000.

Luka Doncic offered another route:

In January, NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen argued that Williamson should shut it down for the rest of the season.

“I think he’s locked up the biggest shoe deal. I think he’s definitely going to be the No. 1 pick,” Pippen said on ESPN’s “The Jump.”

“I think he’s done enough for college basketball that it’s more about him personally now, and I think for him as a young player, I would shut it down,” Pippen added. “I would stop playing, because I feel that he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career.”

Williamson has rejected the suggestion of sitting out, saying he would be letting down his teammates.

But others, like Pippen, would argue that Williamson is jeopardizing his NBA career by continuing to play. Many think he has already locked down the No. 1 pick. It’s possible that Williamson could slide a few spots with a major injury, but it’s more likely that a major injury would just delay his first NBA minutes.

ESPN reported last April that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association had discussed eliminating the “one-and-done” rule by 2020 at the earliest to allow basketball players to forgo college and enter the league from high school.

The rule went into effect following the 2005 NBA draft. Though some of the NBA’s best players came directly from high school – Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, for example – many others also struggled to make the adjustment directly from high school.

As Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp said, despite the inherent risk in Williamson playing without pay, it’s also hard to argue he hasn’t benefitted from the college basketball system, which has raised his profile in the basketball world.

If Williamson is healthy enough to play again this season, the debate is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

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