Brad Simmons

Sonny Vaccaro: Basketball Ambassador or Villain

Posted August 13, 2009

Depending on whom you ask, Sonny Vaccaro could be the greatest basketball ambassador of our era or he could be the problem with basketball in today’s society.

He is probably best known for his time at Nike, where he helped Phil Knight build the shoe company into one of the world’s most powerful companies.

Vaccaro signed Michael Jordan to Nike. Most people would call that a career.

His marketing genius helped jump start outfitting college and university teams into the multi-million dollar business it is today.

You could count Jim Valvano as one of the first coaches to buy into Vaccaro and Nike with much success. Well, there was the unitard, and we all know how that turned out.

Regardless, his time at Nike could be as great a run in business this side of Microsoft.

After an unceremonious split with Nike, he moved on to Adidas where he was instrumental in landing Kobe Bryant as a client. Not too many people can claim both Jordan and Bryant as clients.

He formed the ABCD basketball camp that showcases the top high school players in the country and has turned AAU hoops into the super highway to Division I basketball.

After leaving Adidas for Reebok, he continued his influence with grassroots basketball, helping youth players with advancement in the game.

He has worked with the three largest shoe companies in the world and flourished in all of them. He has been called the most influential man in amateur basketball.

It seemed everything he touched turned to gold.

As big as the ABCD camps, AAU and grassroots basketball has gotten, though their intentions may have been genuine, the reality is they have tested the rules of amateur basketball.

Many view the above mentioned basketball machines as corrupt and any player involved in them have tiptoed the line of eligibility with the NCAA, which has had a long standing battle with Vaccaro.

Most of the basketball players making the jump from high school to the NBA have crossed paths with Vaccaro. Now that the NBA has established an age limit, albeit just one year between high school and the NBA, Vaccaro again is pushing the envelope to get these talented players on professional teams. He was instrumental is getting Brandon Jennings a pro contract overseas for a year until he was eligible for the NBA draft. He also has advised prep underclassman Jeremy Tyler to forgo his final year of high school for the professional ranks.

Most players who have been advised by Sonny Vaccaro stand by him obviously for giving them an avenue to succeed, but others including the NCAA see him as everything that is wrong with basketball.

There may not be another figure in sports that reaches both sides of the public opinion spectrum quite like Sonny Vaccaro.

1 Comment

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • VT1994Hokie Aug 15, 2009

    Never heard of him. But, he does know how to make money. If he got the Nike deal for MJ, I say he is pretty damm smart. Villian. Look at our politicians.

  • NFL: Oakland at Kansas City

    Tonight at 8:30 on WRAL-TV

  • Premier League: Leicester vs. Manchester City

    Saturday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Franklin Templeton Shootout

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: Utah at Xavier

    Saturday at 5:30 pm on FOX50

  • MLS: Seattle at Toronto

    Saturday at 8:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Dallas at NY Giants

    Sunday at 8:20 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Canes at Los Angeles

    Tonight at 10:30 on 99.9 The Fan

Top 25
Sat, Dec 10
25
12:00 PT1:00 MT2:00 CT3:00 ET8:00 GMT4:00 北京时间1:00 MST3:00 EST
Preview
Men's College Basketball
7:00 PT8:00 MT9:00 CT10:00 ET3:00 GMT11:00 北京时间8:00 MST10:00 EST
Preview
12
25
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST
Preview
NFL Scoreboard
Thursday, Dec. 8
Oakland 5:25 PT6:25 MT7:25 CT8:25 ET1:25 GMT9:25 北京时间6:25 MST8:25 EST7:25 CT5:25 UAE (+1)20:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Kansas City 
Sunday, Dec. 11
Pittsburgh 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Buffalo 
San Diego 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Carolina 
Cincinnati 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Cleveland 
Chicago 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Detroit 
Houston 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Indianapolis 
Minnesota 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Jacksonville 
Arizona 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Miami 
Washington 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Philadelphia 
Denver 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Tennessee 
NY Jets 1:05 PT2:05 MT3:05 CT4:05 ET21:05 GMT5:05 北京时间2:05 MST4:05 EST3:05 CT1:05 UAE (+1)16:05 ETNaN:�
Preview
San Francisco 
Seattle 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Green Bay 
Atlanta 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Los Angeles 
New Orleans 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Tampa Bay 
Dallas 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST7:30 CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:�
Preview
NY Giants 
Monday, Dec. 12
Baltimore 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST7:30 CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:�
Preview
New England 
Minor League Baseball
International League
El Paso 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre