"People don't concentrate their emotional energy on products in the way fans abandon themselves to the heroes of their games. But great products that were necessary to great athletic figures, [Nike founder Phil] Knight reasoned, could create customers who were like fans. 'Nobody roots for a product,' Knight would say; the products needed to be tethered to something more compelling and profound.

"The remarkable and strangely muscular business culture Knight created outside of Portland, Oregon, was built upon his similar belief that an economic organization -- cast as a team on a roll -- could also aspire to some elevated definition of greatness.

"By the time all of these ideas began to be enchained as corporate process during the middle of the 1980s, Nike was a slightly countercultural, decidedly down-in-the-dumps, somewhat cash-strapped running-shoe company at the far end of a jogging boom. . . . By early 1993, one of every three pairs of athletic shoes sold in the United States were Nikes."

-- From Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World, by Donald Katz (Random House, 1994)