Saturday, March 26, 2016

Meeting Nike's Phil Knight at World Indoors

Phil Knight: "Bill Bowerman Put the Soles on These Shoes!"

"Bill Bowerman put the soles on these shoes!"
Karl Eagleman photo
"You won't believe what I have in this bag!"

"Try me!" said Phil Knight

I brought the highlights of my early Nike running shoe and memorabilia collection with me to the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Portland.

At USATFs the week before, I introduced myself to Adam Schmenck, producer of USATF's "The Cool Down," and offered to bring key parts of my collection to Worlds.

Adam arranged for me to be interviewed by Dan O'Brien, 1996 Olympic and three-time World decathlon champion, in the final segment of the World Championships "Cool Down" shows. (see interview here:

I had long hoped to meet Phil Knight and to read him the story of what happened between Steve Prefontaine and me on the day Pre won the Olympic Trials 5,000m in 1972. And naturally, I wanted to show Knight my shoe and memorabilia collection.

Giving the inventory lists of my Nike shoes
and memorabilia collection to Phil Knight.
USATF's Karl Eagleman is at left.
Adam Schmenk photo
Shortly after filming the interview with O'Brien, I ran into Knight as he entered the arena. Remarkably, after wanting to meet him for 45 years, when I finally did I was carrying a bag with the 5 rarest shoes in my right hand and a clipboard with inventory lists for the entire collection in my left.

I showed him two pairs, the Bowerman waffle iron shoes (which I'm holding on the right of the first photo), and an unusual pair of Blue Ribbon Sports (Knight's company that morphed into Nike) shoes that has the original BRS soles replaced with waffle material.

"Bill Bowerman put the soles on these shoes!" exclaimed Knight.

I pulled the inventory lists off my clipboard and handed them to Knight, along with my card.

I turned to the Prefontaine story and let Knight know how much I had always hoped for the opportunity to read it to him.

Beaming, he said, "Well, we can make that happen."



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