Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Philip Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. In 1967, BRS opened its first retail store, located on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, California and four years later BRS prepared to launch its own line of footwear, which would bear the Swoosh newly designed by Carolyn Davidson. The first shoe sold to the public to carry this design was a soccer shoe named Nike, which was released in the summer of 1971. In February 1972, BRS introduced its first line of Nike shoes, with the name derived from the Greek goddess of victory and in 1978, BRS, Inc. officially renamed itself to Nike, Inc.
Beginning with Ilie Năstase, the first professional athlete to sign with BRS/Nike, the sponsorship of athletes became a key marketing tool for the rapidly growing company. Since Năstase, Nike continued to sponsor famous athletes like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, John Stockton or David Robinson (retired) and Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Vince Carter, amongst others that still play professional basketball.
Throughout the 1980s, Nike expanded its product line to encompass many sports and regions throughout the world.