Whether we know him through the Jordan brand, or as the iconic basketball player that he was in the 90’s— Michael Jordan is a historic figure for the ages. However, despite his fame, there is an underlying story about his partnership with Nike, and what turned Jordan to the Air Jordan that it is today.
During the early to mid 1980’s, the official shoe partner of the NBA (National Basketball Association) was Converse. From Magic Johnson to Larry Bird, the brand was represented by a group of elite players. Therefore, it was no surprise when the rookie Michael Jordan wanted to join the line-up. However, Converse doubted that a young rookie could live up to the heights of players such as Johnson and Bird.
Next in sight for Jordan was the brand of three stripes, Adidas. Although the company itself was just as eager to sign Michael onto their team, they struggled with the fact that they could not create a basketball shoe at that time. With that came Nike. David Falk, Jordan’s agent first introduced the idea of signing with the upcoming brand Nike. At the time, Nike was a smaller company, known for having many track athletes’ shoes. Sure enough, Jordan had no interest in signing with them. Despite the unwillingness, it was Michael’s mother, Deloris Jordan, who ultimately convinced him to at least attend the meeting and hear Nike out.
With the meeting came a deal in which Nike agreed to give Jordan his own signature shoe, as well as a $250,000 contract. The signature shoe was named “Air Jordan” after Jordan’s outstanding ability to take flight when playing the game of basketball. As a rookie, Nike expected to sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans in the first four years of release. However, much to their surprise, they ended up selling $126 million in year one alone. Thus, created the Jordan brand, also known as Air Jordan, one of the world’s most popular and iconic sneaker and clothing brand of all time.
Whether we love the game of basketball and Michael Jordan for the player he was, or simply just wish upon a pair of Jordan’s every year, we can all agree that the world of Jordan has created an everlasting impact on the entire world. Although there are countless “what ifs” such as “what if Jordan ended up with Adidas? Or Converse?” We can all thank Jordan that in the end, he chose checks over stripes.
Information: 10 Part Documentary- “The Last Dance” on Netflix
Written by Jenny Lee