At first it sounded too good to be true.
Here was Jerry Tarkanian, head coach of UNLV in 1978, sitting down in Las Vegas, Nev., with Sonny Vaccaro, a longtime friend who was best known then for running a high school all-star game. At the time Vaccaro was working for a fledgling shoe company named Nike, which Tarkanian had never heard of.
And he wanted to give Tark the first shoe deal in college basketball history.
"Prior to this what we'd do with Converse is they'd come to town, take us to lunch and offer us a deal to buy shoes two for one," Tarkanian said Monday. "I really appreciated it. I thought two for one was a hell of a deal."
Nike could do much better. It offered Tarkanian free shoes and gear for his entire program – players and coaches – and to sweeten the pot, a contract worth $2,000 per year for him, ostensibly to run some clinics.
"I could not believe it," Tarkanian said. "I asked them, 'You want to give me everything free and pay me?' I was just wondering if there wasRead More »from No business in shoe business