PORTLAND – The PK80 opened Thursday with eight games at two sites, but one of the event’s first functions made for a memorable evening for participating teams.
The tournament, which honors Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, hosted a tip-off reception Wednesday night at Nike headquarters in nearby Beaverton.
Players from 16 men’s teams and four women’s programs munched on appetizers and listened in as Nike executive Eric Lautenbach interviewed Knight for about 15 minutes inside the Tiger Woods Conference Center.
Gonzaga and Ohio State, who will met in Thursday’s late-night opener, went into a separate room for a recorded video message from LeBron James, who wished the players luck and thanked Knight.
James wasn’t finished. Near a lighted GU logo, each player received a pair of James’ newest shoes on the market.
Gonzaga players are wearing new black shoes with iridescent highlights on the swoosh logo made specifically for PK80 games. They could choose between the Kyrie 3, PG1, Kobe A.D. and KD10 models of NBA stars Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Kevin Durant and the retired Kobe Bryant.
The two-bracket men’s tournament, contested at the Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum, concludes Sunday.
The women’s tournament will be a Saturday doubleheader at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. Oregon, coached by former Zag coach Kelly Graves, faces Oklahoma and No. 1 UConn meets Michigan State.
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