There was a time when Michael Jordan and Nike weren’t one and the same. Way back before MJ had an official sponsor, there were three major shoe brands: Nike, Converse and Adidas. Even though MJ has gone on to dominate the Nike Brand and become the single element to propel Nike atop the athletic gear charts, it might not have been. That’s right: MJ was leaning towards Converse or Adidas way back when, with Nike a distant third.
Here’s the full story, via Larry Brown Sports.
“In his new book “Dream Team,” author Jack McCallum talks about how Jordan and Nike came together back in the mid 1980s. As it turns out, signing an endorsement deal with Nike was initially the young star’s third choice behind both Converse and Adidas.
At the time, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were both Converse guys. Adidas was viewed by many players as the company who made the best basketball shoes. Then, there were these Nike guys. After Jordan dominated the 1984 Olympics to lead Team USA to a gold medal, Nike wanted him badly. The feeling was not mutual, but His Airness eventually gave in after pressure from his parents and agent David Falk. When Jordan said he was going to skip a trip to the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, his mother wouldn’t hear of it.
‘You will be on that plane, Michael,’ Deloris Jordan told him.
Nike had already decided to commit its entire marketing budget of $500,000 to build the Air Jordan brand. It worked. After a meeting in which Jordan was shown Air Jordan sneakers and apparel and having received no enticing offer from Converse or Adidas, he agreed to a five-year, $2.5 million deal with Nike. He hated the black and red shoes they made him wear and the NBA fined him $5,000 per game for them. Naturally, Nike paid the fine the entire time. The rest, as they say, is history.”
The executive decision to go all out for MJ was nothing short of genius foresight. Imagining him in other gear is just weird, so we’re glad it all worked out this way.
h/t Business Insider
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