School is around the corner for my LSU kiddos but I slipped away one last time before meeting my new freshmen and headed up to Portland, Oregon to see some friends and family! Recently, my cousin took a job with a dance company in Portland and I figured that was a great excuse to see the Northwest for the first time. I have to admit, I was expecting the weather to be a little cooler than it was, but anything is better than the 110 degrees it is in Texas right now!
Back in college, I worked seasonally for the Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas where we hosted Michigan State twice. There, I met a friend who now works up at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. He was nice enough to show me around the campus while I was in town visiting. Luckily he is also a Nike Storyteller so I got an awesome tour and a lot of really cool background information on Nike that I had no clue about!
Nike has multiple “campuses” for their different areas around the country. This particular campus is the World Campus, so it houses the operations for all of Nike all around the world. North America’s campus is down the street, but we stuck to this area for the most part.
When Nike opened this campus, they were in business with 48 countries. The flags in the entryway are the flags of those 48 countries. Phil Knight started Nike out of the back of a van (which we actually got to see that original van) and really values all of the people that believed in his company. All around the country there are representations of those who supported Nike.
Steve Prefontaine was a legendary track athlete and one of Nike’s first sponsored athletes. Therefore, they have a whole hall dedicated to him and the start of Nike.
Phil Knight is the Oregon grad who started Nike. Ever wondered why Oregon has the most unique uniforms? That’s why. Phil Knight lets them run wild with their designs and he foots the bill for all of it. Which is pretty awesome. Texas Tech was like this for Under Armour in the sense that they gave Coach Kingsbury free reign to design and do whatever he wanted when it came to our uniforms. Apparently Phil doesn’t care for Under Armour though, or Adidas… I wonder why!
Phil Knight also still works on the Nike campus today.
Steve Prefontaine (they call him “Pre”) was actually killed in a car accident in Eugene, Oregon. To honor him, or at least I assume to, they have a ton of his old track gear and memorabilia at the center of the room. It was really cool to look through and see how much stuff has changed.
To start off, they sold shoes out of the back of a van. This is actually the original van that Phil Knight sold Nike shoes out of. In one of my economics classes we spent a day covering Nike and its start and we heard all about this van. It was awesome to get to see the real thing!
The Nike Headquarters campus is all centered around this gigantic lake in the middle. I could literally live out here and never get old of this view!
Throughout this center part of campus, there are plaques dedicated to famous Nike athletes and associates. They call it the Ring of Honor. It’s actually incredible how many people they have plaques for that you just don’t think about. Personally, I focus heavily on football, basketball, and baseball. Even though I work with Olympic sports at LSU, a lot of the times I completely forget about track and golf and tennis and all of the other sports that are out there. The Ring of Honor incorporates athletes from all sports and I thought that was really cool to see.
All of the buildings on the Nike Headquarters campus are named after famous Nike athletes. First up? Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan is obviously a huge name for Nike and the Air Jordans are a big part of that reason. Jordan also currently owns the Charlotte Hornets so there was a lot of stuff on display for them in the Michael Jordan lobby. I might not have heard this information correctly so don’t hold me to it, but Air Jordans are a separate entity and have their own CEO. Not surprising considering they definitely hold their own!
On display in Michael Jordan’s lobby were a pair of his shoes from each year that he played. Jordan designed his own shoes and these are the original shoes that he actually wore during each year. You could pick out the couple of gaps in the years when Michael Jordan retired!
All of the Nike buildings have displays downstairs dedicated to the athlete it’s named after and then whatever area is housed in that building. But the cool (and unique) thing about the Nike campuses is that it’s designed like a college campus – you can move from building to building and work wherever you want. Outside, inside, this building, another building… you could bet that’d you’d find me by the lake, though.
The upstairs of every building is accessible to employees only, though, so we have to stick to the lobbies.
In all honesty, I don’t keep up closely with NBA. It’s not my thing. So I don’t really know a lot about Michael Jordan (outside of the book report I did on him in 4th grade to impress the boy I had a crush on). We kind of flew through this building but I’ll totally admit I reread everything from my pictures later on.
Now NFL is a different story – much more my speed! We didn’t head into Jerry Rice’s building but I’m sure it’s got some great stuff inside it! I would’ve loved to see that.
Love me some OBJ. Geaux Tigers!
… and some Mike Trout!
Next up we headed into Nolan Ryan’s building. Nolan Ryan was an absolute legend and ended his career with the Texas Rangers. He then went on to be their CEO until recently and now he’s with the Houston Astros. But Texas Rangers still love him! Honestly, I wasn’t even aware he left until recently.
If you’ve never seen the video of him fighting Robin Ventura on the field in the middle of a game… Google it.
From the sky, Nolan Ryan’s building is shaped like a baseball field, with the building entry being home plate. This building was the first uniquely shaped building that Nike built. Apparently, before Nike knew if they were going to ‘make it,’ they kept their building designs plain and simple so that they wouldn’t hurt their resale value. Guess this building was their way of celebrating!
Something with NBA is housed in this building, too.
This statue of Nolan Ryan was made out of a bunch of his old stuff that was just sitting around in his garage. His wife gave it away to make the statue and surprise him… apparently he wasn’t too happy about that, but she just shrugged and said he had 10 storage units full of stuff and he wouldn’t miss it!
So this little Japanese garden has a really cool backstory. The Japanese invested heavily in Nike during its start up and Phil Knight never forgot it. This area is a completely accurate traditional Japanese garden and Nike brings in experts to maintain it.
In addition, Nike has kept some of the original swamplands that they built on in order to maintain the natural feel of Oregon. Oregon had such a unique set up nature-wise. We didn’t get out to Eastern Oregon, but from what I’m told it’s desert. This part of Oregon is the total opposite. Seems like a really unique state.
It wouldn’t be Nike without some sports fields, right? This is the soccer field right outside of Tiger Woods’ building. This is where the Nike Opening was held for high school football players until they moved it to Dallas.
This building is Nike’s design building, named after Mia Hamm. This is the only department that is stationary. This is where all that magic happens!
SEBCOE’s building might’ve actually been my favorite building. I loved the black and all the glass… and look at that waterfall! If you didn’t find me sitting by the lake, you’d probably find me here.
In a few days I’ll be posting my visit to Oregon’s Hatfield-Downlin Complex and you’ll see a ton of similarities between it and this building. Phil Knight designed both and you can really see the similarities between the two.
SEBCOE was another famous Nike track athlete, and this artwork piece was from his father. It’s a recreation of his running strides, which are perfectly equal every step.
Tiger Woods’ building was next for us. Talk about a spacey lobby! Lots of room for activities.
While the closest I get to golfing is Put-Put and Top Golf, everyone knows Tiger Woods. I don’t know much about him though, so I read around the memorabilia to catch up a little. Tiger Woods was a Stanford alumni which was probably the only thing I already knew about him.
So this piece of artwork was incredible. It’s made totally out of golf tees. But the crazy thing is that it doesn’t look anything like this when you’re just standing looking at it. For whatever reason, your phone brings out the image!
I didn’t realize this, but Tiger Woods is part Japanese. To contribute to his ancestry, they created this area. At the very, very top, you can see a tiny little white circle in the middle of the gold. That’s a golf ball from Tiger’s first Master’s win. But… during the tournament at some point, Tiger grabbed the wrong golf ball out of a hole (a Titleist ball). So in order to display it, they hid it waaaay up there so no one could read the name on it!
And last up was the trophy, which is modeled after the clubhouse.
Last up was the building I was most looking forward to… Mike Krzyzewski. Also known as Coach K. Coach K is a legendary basketball coach and is currently the head coach at Duke, where he’s been for 38 years. He has an astounding 1,027–279 record. Texas Tech will meet Duke and Coach K in December at Madison Square Garden for a game, and I’ve definitely already booked my hotel and plane ticket. Seeing your college team match up against a Coach K Duke team in New York is nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And after our season last year… I think we’ll be able to keep up.
Coach K has over 1,000 wins. On this wall, every single one of them is listed.
All the flooring in the building is real basketball court wood. Maybe there’s a technical term for it but I sure don’t know it.
Coach K has a pyramid of success, displayed here.
Coach K is a West Point graduate where he played under Bob Knight. Fun fact for my Red Raiders fam – Bob Knight was actually Texas Tech’s head basketball coach from 2001-2008. My cousin, Bryce, just finished his freshman year at West Point and got to meet Coach K a few months back. Had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.
This bench was pulled from the student section at Duke. Duke vs. UNC at Duke in one of these benches is definitely on my bucket list! Considering everyone asks if I’m 18 or assumes I’m still in college, I could totally pass for a student there. Right?
Every team has a players lounge so Nike recreated one for the employees using the Coach K building. Granted, I’ve seen some pretty extravagant ones (TCU’s is the one that comes to mind immediately) and this is a little bare compared…
There are two full-sized basketball courts upstairs for employees to use, too.
And of course this weight room with a view.
This is really just a small glimpse into the Nike World Headquarters campus, but it took us a good hour and a half to get through just this stuff. Forgive me if some of my facts are a little bit off if you know otherwise – there was just so much information to maintain! Nike is such a great company and treats its employees very well and it definitely shows around campus. Later this week I’ll be sharing my trip to Oregon’s state-of-the-art football facility, and you’ll definitely be seeing some similarities between the Nike buildings and their facility! Be sure to check back!