Growing up, there were few things I loved more in the world than Duke Basketball. I lived for every game, keeping stats on my favorite players. I rid my wardrobe of anything that might even come close to resembling Carolina blue, and I even refused to wear Nike, because, you know, that one annoyingly good alumnus they chose for a product ambassador.
I followed the team fairly religiously until my little Duke fan came along five years ago. I haven't had the time to invest in my beloved Blue Devils. I've traded regular season games for Disney Jr. shows and Mike Krzyzewski feature stories for "Captain Underpants'" Epic Novels (Ta La La!). Not that I really mind; I savor the little moments I spend with my son.
Even without the devout attention, though, it was impossible to miss Zion Williamson. This guy is legit. For someone so big and so strong, he is incredibly agile and quick. He's a special kind of college basketball athlete that comes along only a handful of times in a generation.
He brought Duke Basketball back to the Beaven house.
Twice this month, Williamson has proven that he is far from your typical college basketball player. While neither of those incidents had much to do with his statistics, they both involved rubber.
The first came in a Feb. 12 Atlantic Coast Conference match-up with Louisville. While battling Louisville forward Jordan Nwora for the ball, Williamson did his best to gain control, using his strength to pry the ball from his opponent.
It wasn't until you saw the still shots that you realized what Williamson had done. In his efforts to gain control of the ball, he significantly dented it with only the grip of his fingers. The photo on the left shows it.
That is incredibly hard to do, especially at the angle at which he gripped it and when you consider that a regulation-sized ball is fully inflated at about 8 psi.
The second rubber-related Williamson moment came in Feb. 20 game against arch rival North Carolina, one of the biggest games of the year. We were ready. My son willingly turned off the "PuppyDog Pals" to see the game, he was so excited.
That excitement didn't last long. Less than a minute in, Williamson planted his foot, which appeared to slip on the hardwood floor. He fell and grabbed his knee. He was hurt.
In the minutes that followed Williamson's exit from the game, the reason for his fall became more apparent: His shoe blew out. The sole tore aware from the sneaker at the side.
Business Insider, the day after the incident, captured Twitter's response to the situation, showing reaction from users including LeBron James and Buffalo Wild Wings. The story also has one of the best pictures I've seen of the blown-out shoe.
Perhaps the most amusing Twitter take wasn't included in the round-up. It came from Endurica CEO William Mars who retweeted a link to a story on Zion's broken shoes with one of his signature hashtags, #WhenRubberFails.
For Mars, Williamson's shoe was just one of many real-life scenarios that prove the importance of understanding the durability of the rubber products we manufacture. His Twitter feed occasionally features a link to a story about a failed rubber part—an airplane tire for instance, or a batch of chicken nuggets contaminated with rubber particles—to which he adds his hashtag, #WhenRubberFails.
I just wish it wasn't Williamson who got to make the #WhenRubberFails point.
Because Duke really could have used him against Virginia Tech.
Erin Pustay Beaven is the online content editor for Rubber & Plastics News. She is an appreciator of life's littlest treasures, a reader of great books and supporter of the Duke Blue Devils, Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Indians. Erin is an advocate for libraries, arts education and PBS. Follow her on Twitter at @EBeavenCrain.