The club for runners in Saratoga Springs, NY

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Phil Knight

12 Jul 2016 8:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Reviewed by laura clark

I well remember my first pair of yellow canvas and blue swooshed Nike Waffle Trainers.  I had just started running and was recovering from a stress fracture brought on by my thin-soled Adidas.  I recall that the skimpy track model was the only one that fit me in that era when sports revolved around men.  Being ignorant and without the instant feedback from Runner’s World and Dr. Google, I had no idea that track shoes were not suitable for pavement. Since I was living in Germany at the time Adidas was the only option, so I went the mail order route.  I recall my excitement when I opened the box.  The shoes were stylish, ballet-slipper pointed and cushioned!  On trips stateside I stocked up and even owned a pair of the famous blues which Phil Knight initiated in his successful attempt to tap into the leisure wear (and leisure suit!) market.

We all know the story of Bill Bowerman, his wife’s waffle iron and his protégé, Pre, especially in this Olympic year with the Trials at Oregon.  Along with most, I assumed that Nike evolved magically from the sheer force of Bowerman’s tireless work ethic.  But in reality, it was Phil Knight and his band of unconventional misfits who championed Bowerman’s innovations.  Back then Phil and his believers were the equivalent of the early Silicon Valley nonconformists, working out of garages and warehouses, wearing jeans and tee shirts with nary a suit amongst them.  

Phil and his intrepid troupe battled foreign governments, banks and the United States Treasury, always living with the dark cloud of foreclosure looming overhead.  They instituted many now readily-assumed modern day business practices, branching out from shoes to Nike brand innovation with a complete line of running and leisure apparel.  They took sport from the province of a few gifted individuals to a worldwide culture.  They were in it not for the money but for the realization of their vision.  They were the original Shoe Dogs, obsessed with the transformative power of thinking outside the box.

Best of all, Phil Knight’s journey is written by Phil Knight himself.  Not Phil Knight with someone else, not as told to someone else.  Knight is lucid, sincere and insightful and often irreverent as he looks back with no small sense of wonder at all he and his fellow travelers have accomplished on an initial shoestring budget.

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The Saratoga Stryders, a 501(c)(3) affiliate chapter of the Road Runners Club of America. P.O. Box 1467, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

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