Nike giveaway on sound footing
During the Superset tennis event at the Rose Garden in November, the Nike Go program advertised a promotion in which it would donate $1,000 worth of athletic equipment to local nonprofit organizations for every ace served.
There were 50 aces, which ostensibly meant $50,000 in contributions. As a result, Nike intends to donate 500 pairs of shoes to low-income youths through Portland Parks and Recreation.
Yeah, grumbled a couple of e-mailers, that's $100 per pair Ñ not a fraction of the real cost to Nike.
OK, so maybe there was a little false advertising involved. Fact is, Nike doesn't have to do anything. And the Beaverton-based shoe and apparel giant says it committed more than $10 million in cash and products to promote U.S. children's fitness in 2003.
Bob Schulz, recreation manager for Portland P&R, isn't looking a gift horse in the mouth.
'Nike has been a fantastic partner of ours over the last several years,' Schulz says. 'In this case, the shoes work out better for the kids than a cash gift. If we received money, we would spend it on instructors and equipment to program more programs, which is what we are doing anyway. In this case, these kids Ñ a lot of them whose parents can't afford shoes Ñ are going to get high-quality shoes on their feet.
'And it is not going to be a grab bag situation. The kids are being sized right now, and we will have the giveaway at a March 4 event at St. Johns Racquet Center, with a kid's name tied to each shoe.'
Schulz says Portland Parks has received more than $100,000 in cash support for city youth funding, including five playground programs last summer and six community school programs addressing obesity and health issues this school year.
'We are getting a lot of support from Nike in getting kids more physically active,' he says.
nThere are few journalists I respect more than David Aldridge, who is terrific both as a writer and TV reporter. But the information he released on ESPN last weekend was misleading at best.
Yes, Trail Blazer management has talked with Rasheed Wallace and his agent, Bill Strickland, about a contract extension. The number Aldridge floated was $35 million to $40 million for four years, which Wallace was reported to have declined.
This is very old news Ñ maybe two months old Ñ and gives the impression Portland intends to have Wallace back in the fold for four more years.
Unless my information is erroneous, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Blazers are smart enough to know they need to extricate themselves from Mr. T, if not by the Feb. 19 trade deadline then by this summer when he becomes a free agent.
In trade talks, some teams like the idea of looking Wallace over for a half-season, then making a decision about re-signing him. Others aren't interested unless he is committed contractually, the thinking being they don't want to lose an investment after just a couple of months. That is the genesis of extension negotiations Ñ an attempt to facilitate a deal that would end the Portland era for him.
But please, don't suggest that Wallace might be with the Blazers beyond this season. That would fly in the face of everything Blazer management says it intends to do to change the face of the franchise. It would be added indignity to the majority of the fan base, which would like nothing better than to renew its love affair with the team but won't until the malodorous veteran forward is wearing the uniform of another club.