We have LeBron James to thank for Nike‘s now historic ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. Last month Nike co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Phil Knight recalled an eye-opening conversation he had with the NBA star that convinced him to back the controversial ad. Speaking at Stanford, Knight remembered a conversation he had with James about the prospect of his grandsons getting their drivers licenses.
James told Knight about his own sons learning to drive, and his fear that they might be shot by police if they were pulled over. This particular situation had not even occurred to Knight; “I thought of the top hundred worries I have, and that doesn’t make my list,” Knight said. “That was a real eye-opener.”
Knight was initially uneasy about running an ad with Kaepernick, because of his decision to kneel during the US national anthem in protest of police shootings of black Americans. However, his conversation with James left an impression. Knight leveraged his position within Nike to lobby for the ad, saying, “It doesn’t matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it.”