Phil Knight of Nike is No. 9 on SI power list; Nike reaches into Michael Jordan’s past: The Line-up

Phil Knight of Nike is No. 9 on SI power list; Nike reaches into Michael Jordan’s past: The Line-up

March 06–The world of sports footwear and apparel has five representatives on Sports Illustrated’s 50 Most Powerful People in Sports feature that was posted on Wednesday.

Phil Knight, Nike co-founder and board chairman is No. 9; Kevin Plank, founder and chief executive of Under Armour, is No. 24; Herbert Hainer, chief executive of Adidas AG, the second biggest sports footwear and apparel brand to Nike’s No. 1, is No. 32; Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, is No. 46; and Michael Jordan, of The Jordan Brand, is No. 50.

Here’s what the feature had to say about each of them:


President and CEO Mark Parker runs the day-to-day operations, but cofounder Knight, 75, remains the face of the apparel and equipment giant with a market cap of $49 billion and $3.2 billion committed to sports endorsements. Nike bested Reebok to become the NFL’s apparel maker for the next four years, and his pet project — donating hundreds of millions to Oregon athletics — has turned the Ducks into a powerhouse.


When Nike big shots look over their shoulders, they see Under Armour’s 40-year-old CEO. Sure, the company’s $2 billion in 2012 sales are less than one tenth of the swoosh’s, but Under Armour has next-gen cred with its innovative products and young consumers. Plank counts Bryce Harper, Cam Newton and UFC’s Georges St.-Pierre among his endorsers, and in ’12 he broke into the trendy EPL by outfitting Tottenham Hotspur.


He heads up the world’s No. 2 sports-equipment brand, making him a global player with sponsorships, and his company has the official uniform contracts for the NBA, MLS and NHL. But Hainer, 58, slides down this list because of his sluggish Reebok brand, procured for $3.8 billion in 2006, which recently lost its contract as the exclusive maker of NFL gear to Nike.


By plucking Rory McIlroy from Titleist to partner with longtime swoosh frontman Tiger Woods, Davis gave herself a global one-two marketing punch. Sure, Nike trailed TaylorMade-Adidas, Titleist and Callaway in golf revenue in 2012, but the charismatic McIlroy (up to $250 million over 10 years) gives Nike Golf next-gen status and sets up Davis, 50, for years.


Never mind his majority ownership in an NBA franchise or his enduring commercial appeal. (His Q rating, top among sports stars, is 43; Peyton Manning is next at 32.) The Jordan Brand grew an estimated 25% in 2012, generating more in basketball shoe sales than the rest of Nike. The eponym’s take in royalties? Some $60 million. At 50, MJ is driving the lane toward billionaire status.

MORE ON JORDAN: And speaking of Jordan, the Wilmington (N.C.) Star News reports that Tuesday night the school board that oversees Jordan’s high school approved a contract with Nike allowing the company to use the Laney High School logo in some of its products.

“According to the agreement, Nike also agrees to pay the New Hanover County Board of Education 5 percent of the profits from any product using the Laney logo,” says the StarNews Online story.

It adds:

Footwear is a point of note because it’s been widely rumored that the Jordan Brand will release a new “Laney” retro Jordan shoe during the 2013 holidays. So if you’re a sneakerhead, I’d be on the lookout for those. Either way, Nike cleared $2.2 billion in net profit last year, according to the Wall Street Journal’s, just throwing that out there.

— Allan Brettman;