Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Knight in Shining Nike Armour; Founding Partner of Nike, Phil Knight, Will Leave a Transformational Legacy When He Stands Down Next Year

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Knight in Shining Nike Armour; Founding Partner of Nike, Phil Knight, Will Leave a Transformational Legacy When He Stands Down Next Year

Article excerpt

AT 77, Phil Knight is finally stepping down from the multinational giant that now bestrides the world of sport.

Perhaps the $1200 Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman bet on Blue Ribbon Sports back in 1964 is the greatest gamble in sports history.

Perhaps in investing history, too.

A name change to Nike, a $35 swoosh logo and Michael Jordan helped, but it was Mr Knight's vision for sports and sports marketing that was arguably the greatest input.

That money is now worth about $US93billion, of which Mr Knight's stake is a staggering $US22.3billion.

Mr Knight announced on Tuesday that, at 77, he will step down next year as chairman of Nike, the company he founded with his former university running coach Bowerman.

Since Mr Bowerman (credited with the idea of using a waffle iron to create the ubiquitous sports running shoe sole) died in 1999, it will be the first time neither founder is involved in day-to-day running of the company.

In a statement on the company's website, Mr Knight said: "Nike has always been more than just a company - it has been my life's passion ... I have long felt a great responsibility to provide clarity and certainty for the long-term governance and leadership of Nike and for my ultimate transition from chairman."

Mr Knight recommended that current chief executive Mark Parker succeed him, while his son Travis Knight will join the board of directors.

While Mr Bowerman might have been the driving force behind Nike's shoe innovations, it was Mr Knight who took on the business side, selling shoes to stores and persuading budding and established Olympic-quality athletes to wear them.

Michael Armstrong, buying director at JD Sports, the UK's largest retailer of sports clothing and footwear, said that Mr Knight's legacy could not be overstated.

"He has been the most influential person in sports and sports technology since Adi Dassler (founder of Adidas).

"He never stopped pushing design and marketing boundaries but always considered athletes as the number-one priority. …

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