Next year, Nike will celebrate co-founder and chairman emeritus Phil Knight’s 85th birthday with another basketball tournament featuring the brand’s top 16 basketball teams. Once again, Kentucky will not participate.
Last night, Jon Rothstein shared the tentative field for the PK85, which is expected to take place in Portland, Oregon in November 2022: Duke, North Carolina, Villanova, UConn, Xavier, West Virginia, Iowa State, Purdue, Michigan State, Alabama, Florida, Gonzaga, Oregon, Oregon State, Portland, and Portland State. Like its predecessor, the PK80, the event is expected to consist of two eight-team tournaments at Portland’s Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum.
In 2017, Kentucky opted not to participate in the PK80, which honored Knight’s 80th birthday, due to scheduling conflicts. Even John Calipari admitted the decision ruffled Knight’s feathers.
“Phil Knight, he was not happy we’re not playing in it,” Cal said on his radio show in November 2017. “He called me two days ago and said, ‘Hey, when you guys get out here, let’s go out to dinner. Oh, that’s right, you’re not playing out here.’”
“We did, we considered [playing in it]. But this team, just think about how young this team is. We knew they’d be this young. For us right now, having home games and figuring out what we are [is more important].”
Did Kentucky simply not receive an invitation? Perhaps, but Villanova, which also had to miss the PK80 due to scheduling conflicts, is part of the PK85 field. Hopefully Knight will stick around a while longer and we’ll see if third time’s the charm with the PK90.