Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World

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The most powerful force in sports is not a football or baseball team. It is a shoe company. Nike is radically changing the way sports, business, and popular culture interact. Donald Katz is an award-winning author with a genius for getting inside places other journalists can't, and for writing nonfiction with the sweep and drama of a great novel. In his acclaimed bestseller, The Big Store, Katz gained unprecedented access to Sears, America's retail giant of the past. Now, in Just Do It, Katz has penetrated the ...
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Overview

The most powerful force in sports is not a football or baseball team. It is a shoe company. Nike is radically changing the way sports, business, and popular culture interact. Donald Katz is an award-winning author with a genius for getting inside places other journalists can't, and for writing nonfiction with the sweep and drama of a great novel. In his acclaimed bestseller, The Big Store, Katz gained unprecedented access to Sears, America's retail giant of the past. Now, in Just Do It, Katz has penetrated the company of the future, a dream machine that seeks nothing less than to define culture through the power of sports. The protagonist of Just Do It is Phil Knight, a reclusive billionaire who started a two-man operation importing Japanese running shoes and built it into a $4 billion company. Irreverent, unpredictable, and leery of the sports establishment, Knight has created the most muscular jock culture in business, a place where employees routinely take two hours at lunch to work out and then strategize late into the night in their holy war against competitors Reebok and Adidas. Outsiders think Nike is a cult. Insiders believe they are furthering the company's mission: to improve the performance of serious athletes. Not everyone can be a Nike guy. It requires a certain attitude. For example: Michael Jordan refusing to wear Reebok at the 1992 Olympics, or Charles Barkley joking about becoming a porn star. Katz shows how Nike created the spectacular imagery and marketing campaigns that made Jordan, Barkley, and Bo Jackson international icons. He also documents Nike's increasingly influential role in the management of its high-priced talent, taking us inside lucrative endorsement deals involving Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Deion Sanders, Alonzo Mourning, and Pete Sampras, as well as behind-closed-doors negotiations with the NBA and the NCAA as it considers a controversial plan for a collegiate Super Bowl brokered by Nike and superagent Michael Ovitz. Nike is

An award-winning author penetrates Nike--a company of the future, a dream machine that seeks to redefine culture through the power of sports--to provide this portrait of Phil Knight, who pioneered the company from a two-man operation into a four billion-dollar corporation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Given the devotion to the product displayed by employees and customers alike, readers of this corporate history of Nike, which is based in Beaverton, Ore., will need to keep reminding themselves that the object of such adoration are athletic shoes (don't call them sneakers). With access to Nike's top executives, including founder Phil Knight, Katz ( Home Fires ) presents a vivid picture of what life is like inside a company that has grown from a small manufacturer of running shoes in the late 1970s to the giant of the athletic shoe industry with annual sales of $4 billion. A key to its growth has been innovative advertising that features well-known sports figures, who through the commercials became even bigger stars. The best-known case in point is Michael Jordan, who soared to mythical proportions on the wings of his basketball talent and Nike commercials, and the Jordan-Nike relationship is a major focus of the book. While Katz does not shy away from discussing the many controversies that have sprung up around Nike--payments to college coaches, a total sports management service for athletes and the use of cheap labor in Southeast Asia--he did have access to Nike officials and produces, on the whole, a pro-Nike spin. Still, Katz's book provides a compelling look at how big-time sports and big business have become intertwined. (June)
Library Journal
Katz (Home Fires, LJ 5/15/92), who spent 17 months among Nike's senior management during a tumultuous period in the company's history, offers a meticulous, well-written report about the high-pressure decision-making behind Nike's famous marketing campaigns. Lamentably, however, he glosses over controversial issues like the substandard wages paid by the company's Third World manufacturing operations. And he declines to draw interpretive conclusions about Nike's domineering influence over college and professional sports management. This lack of critical perspective constitutes a serious flaw in an otherwise diligent work of corporate reportage. Still, readers will find this a more balanced and up-to-date treatment than J.B. Strasser's Swoosh (LJ 1/92). Recommended for general business collections.-A.G. Wright, Harvard Coll. Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
School Library Journal
YA-The rise of Phil Knight and his Nike empire began with his trip to a Japanese shoe factory in 1963. Joined by Bill Bowerman, his old track coach and an inveterate seeker of a better running shoe, he began to import Tiger running shoes and sell them at high-school track meets. In 1966, Bowerman designed his own product, which was made by the Japanese firm, and in 1972 the first Nikes were introduced. Katz examines the enterprise historically, as a cultural phenomenon and as a multimillion-dollar company. Students seeking information about successful businesses in our global economy, marketing, research and development, or retailing will be profitably engaged by this text.-Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Barbara Jacobs
Blessed by Nike CEO Phil Knight, Katz tackles, with admiration tempered by journalistic inquisitiveness, the question of the company's successes and failures. Personalities are sketched but not overanalyzed; he examines all aspects of Nike--the campus in Beaverton, its Far East factories, retailers, the symbiotic relationship between athletes and the company, and its antiestablishment company culture. Much is made of the pros who, in the 1980s, enabled Nike's growth, including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Andre Agassi. And much is made, too, of the company's preoccupation with image.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679432753
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/24/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 336

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