Knight Honored by Induction

On Sept. 6, 2012, at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, NIKE co-founder and Chairman of the Board, Phil Knight, expressed surprise at being an inductee to the prestigious club as he addressed the other members of the class of 2012, museum officials, guests and assembled media from the podium at center court.

No one in the in the audience was astonished. They realize the man known for exporting the tools of the trade, sneakers, was a significant marketing force causing an explosion of the game to every court, gymnasium and roundball venue across the globe. Knight was genuinely honored by selection to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the day before the induction ceremony, Knight displayed his humility.

"It's a tremendous honor …will be a little bit emotional for me, which I try not to show," Knight admitted.

Normally the magnificent skills displayed while wearing a pair of sneakers is the qualification for entrance but Knight paved a unique path with a robust entrepreneurial spirit. His designation as a contributor to the sport is duly recognized by everyone from the superstars of the game to the young child first lacing up a pair of NIKE shoes. He understood the economic multiplier effect. Engage the public appetite by partnering with the top level talent wearing the shoes and gear advertising the famous swoosh logo.

"Basketball has a tremendous amount of momentum, soccer is the international game but basketball is catching up fast; its growing in all of these countries," Knight said about his vision of the growth of basketball globally. "I know when Michael Jordan went to France for the first time he said ‘I like to come here because I can walk down the street and nobody will know who I am, but now that's not true anymore.' I think the momentum is tremendous."

Knight a graduate of the University of Oregon and the Stanford School of Business, has been a major donor to both schools, particularly Oregon. Knight's financial contributions to Oregon Athletics are obvious with the improvements to facilities including the Matthew Knight Arena, the expansion of Autzen Stadium, and the present expansion of the Casanova Center. While the monetary contributions are important, Knight believes that people and leadership in managing both the human and material resources are important in overcoming obstacles and ensuring long-term success in a college athletic program.

"Everything comes down to management, and I would call coaching part of management," said Knight regarding what it takes for a program like Oregon's to be successful. "It's keeping the coaching momentum and keeping the athletic department going ahead. They (Oregon) have made tremendous progress over the last 10 or 15 years and they have to keep that going. Demands get higher, not lower."

Knight has been an instrumental part in keeping coaches like Chip Kelly and Vin Lananna, the current head of Oregon's fabled track and field program and the 1959 Oregon graduate is optimistic about the Ducks' future.

"They're on a roll and I think they have a lot of momentum," observed Knight of his Alma Mater. "I think the future is brilliant for them."

Knight's contributions have drawn attention across the country and a man of his high profile is diligent in staying within the boundaries of the NCAA rules and regulations. Some have wondered about the many layers of rules and regulations the NCAA has created for universities. When asked if the NCAA helped or hindered the well-being of college athletics, Knight paused and thought for a moment then referred to something Sam Irvin, the colorful late senator from North Carolina, best known perhaps as the chairman of the Watergate committee in the early 1970s, who responded to questions of why the Watergate committee report failed to single out President Richard Nixon. Irvin paraphrased a comment by John Randolph in 1826 of Roanoke, Virginia who was making a political attack upon President John Quincy Adams and uttered, "I do not draw my pictures in such a way as to render it necessary to write under them, "This is a man, this is a horse."

Irvin addressed the questions about the Nixon's exclusion in the Watergate report similarly by saying, "well, we just drew the picture."

Knight used the same analogy regarding the NCAA.

"I think people can make their own opinion because the NCAA has drawn a good picture of itself," commented Knight.

Coincidentally two of his honorary Hall of Fame presenters for the evening's enshrinement held at Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield on Sept. 7, 2012, ascended in popularity during the decade the company went public, the 1980's. Michael Jordan and John Thompson were on stage as a towering tandem backdrop to Knight. Two individuals associated with the University of Oregon, Lauren "Laddie" Gale (Alumnus, 1977) and Howard A. Hobson (Alumnus, Coach, 1965), preceded Knight's entrance into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Visit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and NBA links below for additional information about the class of 2012

NBA Hall of Fame Class of 2012

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