NIKE, Inc. co-founder and chairman Philip H. Knight was honored for his many contributions to the game of basketball when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night, Sept. 7, in Springfield, Mass. He was introduced by Nike athlete and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Michael Jordan. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson also paid tribute to Knight. Thompson has served on the company’s board of directors since 1991.
In selecting Knight for the honor, the hall praised Knight’s iconic partnership with Jordan and his efforts to grow the game around the world.
For Knight, it was an unexpected honor. “My knees buckled. My knees actually buckled when I got the call that I was to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” Knight said. “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.”
Knight and Jordan’s partnership dates back almost 30 years. Their work together forever changed the culture and business of basketball. Nike signed Jordan in 1984 and developed his first signature shoe, the Air Jordan. Together they built an indelible image that ultimately evolved into the Jordan Brand.
The hall also praised Knight’s long history of working with other greats of the game including Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, C. Vivian Stringer and Sheryl Swoopes.
“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.”
To view Knight’s acceptance speech, visit NBA TV’s Hall of Fame channel. You can also view a recent interview NBA TV conducted with Knight on his Hall of Fame enshrinement.