It's not too often that Nike co-founder Phil Knight makes time for public appearances, his busiest time in front of cameras happening during promo runs for his recent memoir. He's back on TV this week though, speaking with Bloomberg about John McEnroe, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan in the above video.
In the clip, Knight gives a couple reasons for the early success of the Air Jordan line, which still dominates the basketball sneaker market years after its namesake's retirement.
"When he started wearing the shoes, we made them really dramatic," Knight explains. "They were red and black and white; they had three main colors." This bold combination of colors was new to the NBA at the time of the shoes' debut, which helped them stand out. It also resulted in fines for Nike as the sneakers Jordan wore during his early days in the league didn't comply with uniform guidelines.
There is some dispute over exactly which sneakers he wore then though—unsurprisingly, in the interview above Knight sticks with the story that the Air Jordan 1 was banned, a tale that has widely been debunked as brand mythmaking.
Knight also gives plenty credit to Jordan as a player, whose flashy style and on-court accomplishments elevated the shoes.
According to the Nike co-founder, current Air Jordan sales dwarf those from when MJ decided to retire—he says Jordan Brand brings in $3 billion annually now vs. $700 million then.