NIKE

How It Started

At the time when Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded the distribution company Blue Ribbon Sports and imported Onitsuka Tiger shoes (forerunner to present day ASICS) from Japan, Adidas dominated the U.S. market. Knight and Bowerman met at the University of Oregon, Knight a member of the track team and Bowerman the track coach, their partnership grew and so did the demand of Onitsuka athletic shoes. Despite the popularity of Onitsuka, Bowerman, still coaching at the time, felt the shoes had room for improvement and was always experimenting with ways he could trim the weight of the shoes. This need to design ultimately led to Blue Ribbon Sports and Onitsuka parting ways, and made way for a brand new company.

Named after the Greek goddess of victory, Nike began in 1971. They enlisted the help of Portland State University graphic design student Carolyn Davison, who created the Swoosh, and released their first line in 1972. When the line came out many were impressed with the innovative "waffle" sole available on some of their models. Bowerman used his wife's waffle iron and liquid urethane to develop the first prototype, which was lightweight and provided traction. Now, Nike had a new line, a new logo, and a new innovation, all they needed for success was someone to promote their running shoes, in came Steve Prefontaine.

Steve "Pre" Prefontaine was a track star at the University of Oregon and won three out of four NCAA Cross Country Championships (he sat out in 1972 to train for the Olympics). After college he became an ambassador for Nike and would often send pairs of shoes to other track athletes along with words of encouragement. Because of his popularity in the sport, people began to wear Nike shoes and experienced the benefits of the new waffle sole. Pre died tragically in a car accident on May 30, 1975, but his influence, passion and soul played a major part in Nike's initial success.

Taking Over

Nike continued to grow throughout the 1970s, and by the early 1980s they had a 50% market share in the U.S. athletic shoe market. As their popularity began to expand, so did their collection. Nike now offered running shoes, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, trail shoes, and more. Some of their most noted accomplishments in the 1980s include the release of the Nike Air Force 1, development of Nike Air Max technology, and partnership with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, which produced one of the most famous taglines of all time, Just Do It. Although these innovations cemented Nike as a major player, they all take a backseat to a one relationship Nike cemented in 1985.

It's hard to exaggerate the impact Nike's partnership with Michael Jordan has had on sports. It started with the Nike Air Jordan 1, and continues today with a complete brand under the Nike umbrella. After an exciting career at the University of North Carolina, Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. Because of his exciting brand of basketball, he instantly became a NBA fan favorite. Nike approached Jordan about signing a contract, but Jordan wasn't signing. He went to Adidas, his first choice, to see if they could come anywhere close to Nike's contract. Adidas said no, and the rest is history.

Jordan became one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball, and his shoes still ignite frenzy with every retro release. The Air Jordan shoes introduced remarkable technology and undeniable style to the game of basketball. Year after year during his playing career, people waited with anticipation to see what Jordan would be wearing. Nike soon became the leader in basketball shoes, and has signed shoe contracts with some of the greatest NBA players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers, including Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Innovation

The innovative minds at Nike have changed throughout the years, but Bowerman's vision of creating new technology that's lighter, more durable, and enhances your athletic performance is still the same. Some of their historical and recent technological innovations include:

Nike Air

Nike Air

This innovation has been more synonymous with Nike that any other. Air units in the midsole of the shoe provide protection during the force of impact. These durable Air units have been seen on a wide array of Nike models.

Nike Shox

Nike Shox

Designed to absorb energy and return it to the wearer, Shox are hollow columns originally constructed in the heel. They provide a superior responsive feel and have been used on everything from basketball shoes to cross trainers.

Nike Zoom

Nike Zoom

This extremely thin cushioning enhances stability, is lightweight and very durable. Zoom Air is a thin pressurized unit with tightly stretched fibers that quickly bounce back after impact. Implementing this technology into the Nike SB line increased its popularity drastically.

Nike Air

Nike Free

Nike designed Free technology so the wearer could get the benefits of running barefoot with the protection of a shoe. This outsole design is extremely flexible with deep flex grooves and maximizes the natural range of motion.

Nike Air

Nike Hyperfuse

A process that fuses three layers of material producing a supportive shoe that is lightweight, breathable, and nearly seamless. This technology is currently available on basketball and running/training shoes.

Nike Lunarlon

Nike Lunarlon

A foam core that is 30% lighter than Phylon, yet provides superior cushioning. Lunarlon also affects the force of impact, allowing it to be distributed more evenly, which constitutes a more comfortable ride.

Today & Tomorrow

Currently, Nike is the largest athletic outfitter company in the world. They have expanded their reach beyond shoes, and now put their name on apparel, accessories, equipment, and much more. Today's biggest stars in virtually every sport are currently endorsed by Nike, including Roger Federer (tennis), Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer), LeBron James (basketball), Paul Rodriguez (skateboarding), Albert Pujols (baseball), Tiger Woods (golf), and Adrian Peterson (football). Nike has also reached a deal with the NFL starting in 2012 as the league's official uniform/sideline apparel provider.

"If you have a body, you are an athlete." - Bill Bowerman

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Nike Air Force 1 High '07

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Originally released in 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 was the first Nike model to feature Air technology. This legendary basketball sneaker was designed by ...

Nike Air Force 1 High '07

Nike Air Force 1 High
Retro Basketball Shoes
Our Price: $94.99

Originally released in 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 was the first Nike model to feature Air technology. This legendary basketball sneaker was designed by ...

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Originally released in 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 was the first Nike model to feature Air technology. This legendary basketball sneaker was designed by ...

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Nike Air Force 1
Retro Basketball Shoes
Our Price: $84.99

Originally released in 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 was the first Nike model to feature Air technology. This legendary basketball sneaker was designed by ...

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