On Tuesday, Phil Knight announced that he will be stepping down as the chairman of Nike in 2016. That news might not have made such massive waves across the sports world if not for Sonny Vaccaro.
The 75-year-old basketball impresario played a pivotal part in transforming Nike from a track shoe business run out of the trunk of Knight's Plymouth Valiant into the world's pre-eminent sports apparel brand. It was Vaccaro, the founder of the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic in his native Pittsburgh, who exposed Knight to the opportunities inherent in hoops.
In 1984, Knight and Vaccaro signed Michael Jordan to his first shoe contract, thereby tipping off a revolution in the way sports are marketed and consumed around the world.
Knight ultimately fired Vaccaro from Nike in 1991, in the midst of the company's meteoric rise. "They did well after that, but I also did well after I left," Vaccaro told Bleacher Report. "I don’t know enough, and I guess I’ll never know. That’s fine."
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