Explains why Nike likes thugs.
Nike executive Larry Miller admitted to committing murder in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated. Miller, 72, said the murder occurred in 1965 when he was a self-described gangbanger in West Philadelphia.
Miller used to be president of the Portland Trail Blazers and is Nike’s Jordan Brand chairman.
The details of the incident are harrowingly extraordinary. "We were all drunk," Miller told Sports Illustrated. "I was in a haze. Once it kind of set in, I was like, ‘Oh, s***, what have I done?’ It took years for me to understand the real impact of what I had done."
On Sept. 30, 1965, Miller killed 18-year-old Edward White. He said the murder was a hit against a rival gang, in retaliation for one of the members of his own gang being murdered. Sadly, Miller was not even certain that White was actually in the gang — or in any gang. He just decided to shoot the first person he saw. He learned of his victim’s name from a local news report at the time.
Miller admitted that his criminal behavior led him to prison until he was about 30. He studied while behind bars and eventually received a degree from Temple University in accounting shortly after he was released. From there, Miller has had amazing success. He climbed his way up to become vice president of Nike Basketball in 1997, president of the company’s famous Jordan Brand in 1999, and then president of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers in 2006. He eventually returned to Nike and resumed his duties as president of the Jordan Brand in 2012.
Quite frankly, Miller’s story warrants a bifurcated reply of amazement. On one hand, his turnaround is truly an inspirational story worthy of a Hollywood biopic. From gangbanger to Nike executive to president of an NBA franchise? Only in the United States could such things happen.
On the other hand, he is a murderer. True, it happened decades ago. True, he turned his life remarkably around. But should there be some accountability for his crime?
Comparatively speaking, Jon Gruden was shamed out of existence because of his past, and he did nothing nearly as bad as what Miller did. Are past murderers exonerated for their crimes, but past emails can ruin a man? Have insensitive remarks, even cruel or inappropriate ones, really passed murder in the hierarchy of personal transgressions?
Given his wealth and power, it is obvious nothing will happen to Miller at this point. And it is hard to state legitimately that he should be punished for a crime that occurred so long ago. Short of any future skeletons being revealed in his closet, Miller has been an upstanding member of society, a reflection of what can be achieved in the U.S. when people take advantage of the opportunities given to them.
Still, what does it say when a confessed murderer can receive acceptance and praise, but past emails containing alleged tropes and insults ruin a person’s career? It is definitely something worth contemplating.