Nike co-founder Phil Knight recently spoke with USA Today for his first interview since the announcement that he'd be relinquishing his position as the company's chairman in 2016 and as expected, the exchange is full of gems.
Despite his age, 77, and his pending move with the company, it's clear that Knight hasn't lost his fiery competitive spirit. The chairman even stood by comments made in a 1988 interview with 20/20 where he said that he was looking forward to putting Reebok employees out of work.
Given the current landscape of the sneaker industry, it may be hard to believe that Reebok was once the biggest thorn in Nike's side but in the late '80s, it actually managed to surpass the Swoosh in sales. According to Knight, Reebok's success during this period caused Nike to drop 280 of its own workers, and he was merely looking to even the score.
"That's kind of the nature of the business, is that there are winners and losers," Knight said. "When Reebok went by us (in sales), we had to let go of 280 people and it was a painful experience. And our job was to go back by them and the result of that was they would have to let some people go. It made perfect sense to me and still does."
It's clear that he still feels strongly about the brand, and it turns out that his transition from chairman might not go down as easily some have expected. "I didn't say I'm walking away. I said I was stepping down as chairman. I won't walk away. I'll be carried away," Knight said.
You can read the complete interview at USA Today.