What were they thinking? Nike was born in 1964, in the midst of the American civil rights era. Shielded from it all, the brand was then known as Blue Ribbon Sports and wouldn’t become the Nike that we know, today, until the company hired a young basketball player out of University of North Carolina. But to understand Nike’s particular brand of capitalism, look no further than one of their earliest tent poles: their partnership with late, running icon Steve Prefontaine. One of the first examples of their go-to style of marketing was by way of their partnership with him.