Few people have had as big of an impact on the sneaker industry than Sonny Vaccaro. Known as the mastermind behind Michael Jordan's first deal with Nike, and many other blockbuster partnerships Vacarro helped create the thriving and lucrative sneaker industry that we know today. His vision for connecting brands with athletes is not only a standard in the world of sports' business today, but also the initial thought process that now has kids growing up wishing to have their own signature sneaker one day. Vaccaro recently sat down with Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast to discuss the current state of sneakers, and revealed that he believes he helped Nike co-founder Phil Knight get into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Vaccaro had a great run with Nike, but has been brutally honest about his time working with the Swoosh, which eventually ended with them no longer needing his services. His contributions to helping build the foundation for the brand's relationships with athletes resulted in Nike being the most powerful sports brand in the world. Of course, this has resulted in a lot of praise and accolades for Knight, including a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. "Phil's in the Hall of Fame and I put him there. Let's be honest, they don't become that company without those college coaches," said Vaccaro. He was referring to the relationships that he helped develop between Nike and college coaches, which put Nike sneakers on the best college basketball players before school sponsorships were a thing. It's easy for people to be bitter towards their former employers, and Knight is certainly deserving of all of his success, but Vaccaro definitely has the track record to make a strong case for his claims.
Listen to the podcast here.