Michael Jordan signed with Nike after being drafted by the Chicago Bulls and getting his own signature shoe. The shoes were called Air Jordans and became the biggest hit of the late 80s and all of the 90s.
Jordan’s shoes were so popular that several NBA players wore them even when playing against the Bulls superstar. When MJ saw other players wearing his shoes, he had wild news for them.
Michael Jordan: Don’t embarrass my shoes
After winning his fourth championship in 1996, Jordan was asked by SLAM Magazine what he said to players who wore his shoes while playing against him. As expected, His Airness had a classic reaction.
“I tell them, ‘Don’t embarrass my shoes.’ [I say that to] anyone who wears them, ”said Jordan.
During his Hall of Fame career, Jordan was a vicious trash talker and rarely said anything nice to his opponents. While he might have valued his rivals in his shoes, he certainly wouldn’t let them know as he wanted to keep a competitive advantage.
Thanks to Nike, Jordan has built a brand empire. However, without his mother, Black Jesus would never have signed with them.
Michael Jordan didn’t want to sign with Nike
Jordan wore Adidas shoes at UNC and was a huge fan of their sneakers. However, his agent David Falk from ProServ knew that Adidas was too dysfunctional for his client.
Converse was the official shoe of the NBA when Jordan entered the league, so Falk was hoping they would offer the Bulls Guard a deal and a signature shoe. However, they already had several high profile players including Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Bernard King, Larry Bird, and Isiah Thomas, and were not ready to make a shoe specifically for Jordan.
Nike was an up and coming company in the late 80s and Falk thought it was the perfect brand for Jordan. However, the All-Star was not interested in meeting Nike on their campus, so Falk was forced to call the big guns. He told Jordan’s parents that their son made a mistake by not seeing Nike, and Jordan’s mother convinced her child to get on a plane to Oregon.
Nike had a sensational offer for Jordan, and Jordan’s father told his son he was a fool for not accepting the deal. The Bulls star signed a promotional deal with Nike and his first shoe was called the Air Jordan 1.
Bulls Legend has arguably the most popular sneakers of all time
In episode 5 of the Last Dance documentary, Falk said that Nike will sell $ 3 million worth of Air Jordans by the end of its fourth year. In the first year, Nike sold around $ 126 million.
According to Forbes, Nike has paid Jordan an estimated $ 1.3 billion since 1984. In 2019, the six-time champion earned an estimated $ 130 million from Nike, four times as much as LeBron James, who has the biggest shoe deal among active NBA players.
The Jordan brand helped the Bulls icon become a billionaire. He has around 2.1 billion net worth in 2021, and that number will only rise in the future as the Jordan brand shows no signs of slowing down.
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