In the second chapter of “Sole Man”, the 5 chapter series produced by ESPN 30for30 on Grantland.com, tells the backstory how Sonny Vaccaro convinced Phil Knight and others at Nike to go ‘all in’ and gamble on Michael Jordan, to become the face of Nike Basketball and to create the “Air Jordan” line of sneakers!
What’s undeniable is this: Sonny Vaccaro is one of the sports world’s most charismatic, polarizing and influential figures. Now 75, he is still a fast-talking maverick whose zeal for basketball, advocacy for underprivileged kids, and instinct for sales forged an era of unprecedented growth for two pillars of pop culture: basketball and sneakers.
Whether you’ve known Sonny for five minutes or five decades, he is one of the most charismatic and memorable people on the planet. He is both interesting and relentlessly interested — a “quick” conversation with Sonny rarely lasts less than 30 minutes, and he’ll schmooze effortlessly about everything from 70s rock ‘n roll (don’t get him started on Grand Funk Railroad) to Kobe Bryant’s jump shot to the vagaries of antitrust law. ~ ESPN
Visit Grantland every day this week for a new chapter of Sole Man. Sole Man will make its prime-time television debut on Thursday, April 16, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.