Nicknamed “Hoop Hall”, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame hosted its annual celebration last Friday to honor this year’s new inductees to the basketball shrine. Along side Indiana Pacers’ Reggie Miller and Don Nelson, the winningest coach in NBA history, was Philip H. Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike. Introduced by 2009 Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, Knight was selected because of his immeasurable contribution to the game of basketball. Thanks not only to his work with Michael Jordan but other basketball greats like Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Scottie Pippen, Sheryl Swoopes, and rising legends like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant, Knight transformed not just the business of the game but its visibility as well. In its official statement, Hall of Fame wrote:
One of the most significant contributors to the game of basketball, Knight, Nike’s co-founder, is currently the company’s Chairman of the Board. Under his guidance, Nike became the first sports brand to work with elite athletes to garner their insights to create the most innovative products. In basketball, Knight worked to create one of the company’s most iconic partnerships with Michael Jordan. He has had a long history of working with other basketball greats like Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Dirk Nowitzki to Coach K and C. Vivian Stringer. Knight also signed Sheryl Swoopes as the first woman to have her own signature basketball shoe. His company now supports NBA stars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Knight’s support of basketball internationally has also helped to elevate the game globally, including its current sponsorship of USA Basketball. He’s also focused his efforts on supporting college athletics — including basketball — by providing resources to grow and maximize the collegiate game and the student-athlete experience through programs such as Duke, Georgetown, Syracuse and his alma mater Oregon. In 1993, he was named the Most Powerful Man in Sports by The Sporting News.
In his statement, Knight recalled “My knees buckled. My knees actually buckled when I got the call that I was to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” He continued “This is an incredible honor to be recognized for contributing to the expansion of the game, and for collaborating with players over the years to deliver performance innovation.” Nike’s chairman also took the opportunity to thank everyone “There are too many athletes and coaches to thank for their support and partnership over the years but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize Michael [Jordan] for how much he trusted Nike as we both worked to elevate the game, and for being a true student of innovative design,” Knight said. “I’m humbled to be able to join some of my childhood heroes in the Hall of Fame like George Mikan, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson. I’ll reflect on my memories of them while I’m taking in the Hall of Fame and enshrinement this week.”
Congratulation to Phil Knight and Nike!