Thanksgiving is usually reserved for football — but not this year. From Nov. 23–26, 2017, Portland will host one of the biggest college basketball tournaments ever put together: the PK80 Phil Knight Invitational. The mega-tourney is a celebration of Knight, the co-founder of shoe and sportswear giant Nike, who turns 80 this year.
HOW THE PK80 WORKS
The tournament will showcase some of the most successful schools in the history of men’s college basketball. Defending 2017 NCAA Champions the University of North Carolina will be headlining the stacked lineup. Also playing are Duke University, University of Oregon, Michigan State and Gonzaga University, among others.
There will be a total of 16 men’s teams, including locals Portland State University and University of Portland. The tourney will last for four days, at two neighboring facilities: Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
With national coverage on ESPN and the sheer amount of talent involved, the PK80 will be one of the grandest collections of college basketball royalty ever assembled.
“I don’t know that you’ll ever see anything like this again,” said Chris Oxley, senior vice president of venue operations for the Portland Trail Blazers. “These are pretty significant commitments that these teams are making to honor Mr. Knight. It’s a major commitment by some of the best collegiate basketball teams in the country.”
Colleges will be divided into two eight-team brackets, each with a catchy, Nike-inspired name: “Victory” and “Motion.” The first bracket takes its name directly from Nike, which is named after the Greek goddess of victory. (According to Knight’s autobiography, his initial idea was to name his future billion-dollar empire “Dimension Six.” Obviously, the Nike moniker won out.) The “Motion” bracket is inspired by the Swoosh logo, designed by Portland State University student Carolyn Davidson in 1971. The iconic symbol represents the wings of the goddess Nike.
A one-day women’s basketball doubleheader will also take place at the Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon in Eugene, 110 miles (177 km) south of Portland. The Oregon women’s basketball team will face Oklahoma, while the University of Connecticut will match up against Michigan State.
For hometown hero and University of Portland Pilots men’s coach Terry Porter, the PK80 presents a chance to highlight local hoops on a national scale.
“Being a part of this remarkable tournament field has been impactful in recruiting already,” said Porter. “With so many new players on our roster this season, fans are going to get to see a new version of the Portland Pilots.” Porter, who played for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers from 1985–1995, started coaching at University of Portland in 2016.
The Pilots will be matched up against North Carolina for their first game. “With such a young team, we just have to come out and play with no pressure,” Porter said. “We have nothing to lose and if we play with energy and compete from start to finish, I will be happy.”
It’s a challenge that Porter and the Pilots are looking forward to. Porter, whose jersey was retired by the Blazers in 2008, is ecstatic to be back in the Rose City after more than a decade spent coaching NBA teams across the country.
“The city embraced me as a person, and the Trail Blazers as a franchise, unlike any other place I’ve been in my career,” said Porter. “It is truly my home.”
The PK80 is a fantastic way to celebrate Phil Knight and his contributions to the great game of basketball. This is true whether you’re looking to do something unique this Thanksgiving, or hoping to catch some incredible college hoops. Single-session tickets (which include two games) are available for as low as $30, and weekend passes start at $645. Get more ticket information and a complete team list — and get ready for a basketball-packed weekend that you’ll never forget.