words // Zac Dubasik
It seems impossible to imagine how things in the sneaker world would have gone had Michael Jordan not chosen Nike for his sneaker deal.
According to an excerpt from Jack McCallum's new book "Dream Team," that's the exact scenario that almost was.
As reported by Larry Brown Sports:
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.
Imagine for a minute that things went one of the other ways. Could MJ have helped propel either Converse or adidas to the levels he helped take Nike to? Or was it the perfect marriage of the perfect two entities that allowed both the Nike and Jordan brands to become what they are today?